Egypt Rejects 3-Way Exchange

Arutz7 News - November 27, 2003

(See J4JP Comment below.)

Egypt has refused an American-Israeli proposal regarding Azzam Azzam that would solve two problems at once.

The background: Egypt has been holding Azzam, an Israeli Druze citizen convicted of spying for Israel - charges categorically denied by Israel - for seven years, with eight years left on his prison sentence. Israel, for its part, is holding Samir Kuntar of Lebanon, who murdered the Haran family in Netanya 24 years ago. The Tenenbaum-Dirani hostage-exchange deal with Lebanon - 400 Arab prisoners, including Ron Arad-kidnapper Dirani and Sheikh Obeid, in exchange for Israeli citizen Elchanan Tenenbaum and three soldiers' bodies - is being held up because Hizbullah demands the release of Kuntar as well.

The U.S. proposed to Egypt that it release Azzam, in exchange for whom Israel would free Kuntar - thus paving the way for the exchange with Hizbullah. Egypt has refused, according to the London-based Al Quds Al-Arabiye newspaper. No mention was made of whether the U.S. offered to release Jonathan Pollard in a similar deal.

In a related item, President Moshe Katzav said today that he believes Ron Arad is alive - and that this is not just "wishful thinking." He did not elaborate further, nor did he say whether Arad is being held in Iran.

Justice4JP Adds:

At the Wye summit in 1998, Israel secured a promise for the release of Jonathan Pollard and the US elicited a similar promise from Egypt to free Azzam Azzam in a parallel gesture to Israel. Before the ink was dry, the US reneged on its promise to free Jonathan but still tried to strong-arm Egypt into freeing Azzam Azzam. Egypt of course refused.

To this day Egypt remains steadfast in its behind-the-scenes assertions that it cannot release its "Israeli spy" Azzam Azzam without loss of face in the Arab world, as long as America continues to hold its own Israeli spy in prison.

Justice4JP reiterates its long-held position that Jonathan Pollard's release does not have to be purchased again. It has been repeatedly promised to Israel by the US, (the last time was at the Wye Summit in 1998) and it should be honored.

By living up to its commitment to free Jonathan Pollard, the US would provide Egypt with the necessary political cover for the release of Azzam Azzam without fear of negative consequences in the Arab world.That neither the US nor Israel has shown any inclination to do the obvious in order to free Azzam Azzam speaks volumes.