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Path to Peace: Release Palestinian Prisoners, Israeli Hostages

In a region long plagued by conflict and unrest, a glimmer of hope for peace may be emerging. Gershon Baskin, a seasoned hostage negotiator with two decades of experience dealing with Hamas, has put forth a compelling proposal to secure the release of 240 Israeli citizens held in the tunnels of Gaza. Baskin's solution calls for Israel to free approximately 7,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of these hostages.

Gershon Baskin, who played a pivotal role in securing the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit after his five-year captivity in Gaza, has been in contact with various parties across the Middle East in an effort to facilitate the release of the Israeli hostages seized by Hamas.

He believes that the most viable path to resolution lies in an 'all for all' deal, where the estimated 7,000 Palestinians incarcerated in Israeli prisons would be exchanged for the men, women, and children taken captive on October 7. These Israeli hostages are believed to be held in the extensive network of tunnels beneath Gaza, posing a significant challenge to any Israeli rescue operation.

According to Baskin, "There is only one way to get all the hostages out safely, and that is in the 'all for all' deal. I do not think there is any other deal that would work to get them all out safely; that is the only one Hamas would consider." In such an agreement, Israel would need to make decisions about where the Palestinian prisoners would go, possibly involving countries sympathetic to Hamas or even repatriating them to Gaza.

The urgency of the situation cannot be understated. "The clock stops ticking once Israel goes in a determined way into the tunnels. At that point, it becomes apparent that Israel made the decision that it might be sacrificing all the hostages," warns Baskin. The consequences of such a decision would be devastating, not only for the hostages and their families but also for Israeli society as a whole.

Efforts to secure the release of the hostages are not isolated to one party. Beirut is emerging as a potential mediator in these negotiations, with reports suggesting that Qatar played a role in the recent release of four hostages by Hamas. Gershon Baskin was also instrumental in the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, which involved negotiations held in Egypt where lists of Hamas prisoners were exchanged for Shalit's freedom after five years.

The dynamics surrounding the release of hostages and prisoners are highly complex. "We are dealing with people who expect to die and want to be martyrs, which makes the situation entirely unpredictable," says Baskin. The fate of those released remains uncertain, as they could potentially face arrest or even death in the future.


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