Former senior German foreign intelligence official of the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) Gerhard Conrad has revealed that he reached a good deal for the Shalit deal between the Israeli government and Hamas in 2009. However, the former Israeli prime minister canceled at the last moment. and accepted another deal with worse terms.
Conrad’s statements come at a time when the new agreement between Hamas and Israel faces great difficulties.
Hamas demands that Palestinian women and children be released in exchange for information from Israel on the condition of its prisoners. He then demanded the release of 1,100 prisoners, including all lifers, and the six prisoners who managed to escape from Gilboa high security prison and were re-arrested.
Israel wants to release a small number of prisoners and refuses to release prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment.
In a lengthy interview with the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, Conrad revealed some secrets of the negotiations he conducted between Israel and Hezbollah and Syria and between Israel and Hamas.
He explained that former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled an agreement between Hamas and its representative Hagai Hadas.
Conrad called the 70 rounds of negotiations between the two sides “difficult” and lacking in confidence, adding that there had been many times when they felt that everything they had established had collapsed.
But in the end, the two sides came to an agreement to release Gilad Shalit in exchange for Israel’s release of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. The deal was awaiting final approval from political leaders, but Netanyahu backed down.
Conrad said Netanyahu agreed to a worse deal in 2011, and the number of released prisoners rose to 1,050. The second deal also included names Israel did not arrange at the time.
The official believes Netanyahu changed his position after a popular uprising erupted against him in light of deteriorating social and economic conditions, among other reasons.
Notably, several reports quote a “senior Israeli official” as saying that there is a unique and rare opportunity to reach a prisoner exchange deal with the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli channel Channel 13 reported that the agreement with Hamas stipulates that the Israeli army will recover the bodies of soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, in addition to civilians held by Hamas, namely Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, but there is a dispute over the level and number of Palestinian prisoners that Israel will release.
Many fear that this process will be abruptly called off, and that is why they see Conrad’s statements as a warning to the Israelis.