Barak: Must seek ‘all for all’ deal; hostages were abandoned by Israel on Oct. 7, mustn’t be sacrificed now

Former prime minister Ehud Barak. (Avshalom Sassoni‎‏/Flash90)
Former prime minister Ehud Barak. (Avshalom Sassoni‎‏/Flash90)

Former prime minister Ehud Barak says Israel should have announced from the start of the war that it was ready for an “all for all” deal under which it would be prepared to release all Palestinian security prisoners in return for the freeing of all hostages held in Gaza.

He tells Channel 12 this may not have produced a deal at that time but it would have given Israel greater international legitimacy.

Most crucially, he adds, the hostages today are in an entirely different category than any in previous deals. This is not a case of a soldier captured “because of a certain failed action,” Barak says, referring to the Gilad Schalit exchange, nor of a businessman who found himself in captivity through his own actions, he says, apparently referring to a 2004 deal.

“These are people who were abandoned by the State of Israel” when Hamas terrorists rampaged murderously through their communities on October 7, and now Israel has “to decide whether it is also going to sacrifice them.

“We are severing the moral basis of the foundational contract” between the state and its citizens, he warns, “if we don’t do everything in order to get them out, even if that means there will be lots of terrorists released from jail. We’ll settle accounts with [the terrorists] later on , though that may take a long time. Saving the hostages will not be possible if we don’t do it during this war.”

A longtime critic of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Barak also says Netanyahu is constrained by far-right ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir, who can bring him down when they want to, and that Netanyahu has therefore now invented a new self-preservation claim by presenting himself as the only person capable of preventing a Palestinian state.

“Nobody’s talking about a Palestinian state, but about the exit strategy” once Hamas has been defeated in Gaza, says Barak. Israel under Netanyahu, he says, is failing to present a credible vision for Gaza after Hamas has been stripped of its “military and governance capability.”

He says Netanyahu should be working on this with the US, and also with Egypt, Jordan, the UAE and the Saudis. Not doing so is “a grave failure.”

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