As Israel comes under more and more pressure to re-open the border crossings into Gaza, outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has found a bit of spine, and is taking a hard moral stand on the issue: the crossings will remain closed as long as Hamas holds Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit prisoner.
Shalit was taken prisoner in a Hamas cross-border invasion in the summer of 2006, and has been a hostage ever since. His captors have made numerous demands and threats, and offered diminishing evidence of his safety.
The people of Israel simply won’t forget about Shalit. In the recent elections, many voters wrote in Shalit’s name as a reminder that they won’t let him fade away.
Olmert’s refusal — and the popularity of this stance in Israel — will not, in all likelihood, win Shalit’s freedom. But it should force the terrorist apologists to come out and say what they truly believe: that in the interests of “peace,” the lives of Israelis can be sacrificed.
It won’t be couched so bluntly, of course. Rather, Israel will be called upon to be “realistic” and “pragmatic” and to “show good faith” by bending on the issue of Gilad Shalit, in hopes that eventually he (or his remains) will be bartered for hundreds or thousands of Palestinian prisoners — the original intent of his kidnapping.
Olmert should stand firm on this point — it is a position of absolute moral authority. And so should his successor.