CNN reports that Israel has agreed to a prisoner swap with Hezbollah, which hopefully will bring home two Israeli solidiers abducted by the terrorist group when it sparked the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon. Reports are sketchy, however, on whether the two solidiers are alive, and on the contours of the deal itself. CNN notes (accurately) that Hezbollah's top priority in these negotiations has always been to secure the release of Samir Kuntar, currently serving a life-sentence for the cold-blooded murder of an Israeli man and his 4-year old daughter. That this is Hezbollah's number one objective (they view him as a hero) is highly indicative of their continued rejectionist stance: bloody, illiberal, and properly banished from the realm of respectable politics.
As much as I want to see the kidnapped solidiers come home safely (assuming that even is on the table), I previously wrote that the release of Mr. Kuntar has be seen as a red-line. The sheer depravity of his act -- he shot the father to death before his daughter's eyes, then dashed her brains out with rocks -- is shocking even when cast against the entire history of the Israeli/Arab conflict. It is sickening, and the idea that this man will walk free again -- much less to a hero's reception -- is nauseating, not to mention, a banner around which those who thirst for continued terroristic violence will rally around.
As I have relayed in many other analogous contexts, it is ultimately Israel's choice as to how it wishes to mediate these tough choices. But if Mr. Kuntar is released, the global community must make it absolutely clear that the man now walking the street is not just a terrorist, but a uniquely sick and twisted individual who represents the worst in anti-Semitic and anti-Israel pathologies.
UPDATE: The WaPo version of the story reports that Mr. Kuntar will be released.