Prisoner deal excites Mid-East media

undated image of Gilad Shalit More than 1000 Palestinian prisoners are to be released by Israel to free Gilad Shalit

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The Israeli-Hamas prisoner exchange deal has prompted widespread comment in the Israeli and Palestinian media. Palestinian papers speak in favour of a deal, while some Israeli commentators are divided on its further implications.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, the morning bulletins on the main pan-Arab TV channels all give prominence to the deal, except Syria's state-run station. Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera TV and Iranian state-run Al-Alam TV devoted a large part of their main bulletins to the story, with correspondent reports and public reaction.

Saudi-funded Al-Arabiya TV has less to say, and highlights the failure to secure the release of Fatah leader Marwan al-Barghouti and radical militants Ahmed Saadat and Abdullah al-Barghouti.

News of the deal came too late for much of the Arab press, but pan-Arab newspapers in London register the story halfway down their front pages. The Iranian media has little to say on the story.

Nahum Barnea in mass-circulation Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot

"The price is excessive, the risks are great and the precedent is not heartening, but a country which for five years failed to extricate a soldier from captivity by other ways cannot but pay the price... Netanyahu deserves praise for deciding, and he made the right decision."

Prof Eyal Zisser in pro-Netanyahu Yisrael Hayom

"Yesterday was undoubtedly a big day for Hamas... The Hamas celebration will end in a few days, but at the end of it Israel and the Palestinians and even Hamas will stand exactly where they were on the eve of the deal."

Maj-Gen Eliezer Stern in Yediot Aharonot

"Yesterday the government chalked up a short-term achievement and will pay a high price in the long term... How will we send soldiers on missions to catch mass murderers after it was made clear that the detention of those murderers will be conditional?"

Ari Shavit in Israeli liberal newspaper Haaretz

"There are many very good reasons to oppose the deal for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. They include the fact that the deal is a surrender by Israel to terror; that it will spur Hamas... and empower extremists in the Arab world and in Palestine... And yet there is one decisive reason to support the deal: Israeli solidarity; without this feeling there is no meaning to our lives here."

Ben-Dror Yemini in centrist Israeli newspaper Maariv

"This deal is a prize for terrorism. This deal is a mighty victory for Hamas... The appetite for more kidnappings is great; the next surrender is only a matter of time."

Steve Linde in English-language Jerusalem Post

"There are undoubtedly those in Israel, especially some victims of terror, who will strongly oppose the release of Palestinian terrorists, and even murderers. This is understandable, but the overriding principle must not be forgotten: Israel and the Israeli Defence Force cannot abandon Israeli soldiers, citizens and prisoners, wherever they are."

Pro-Fatah Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds

"The release of any number of freedom prisoners is a welcome matter, because it ends their suffering as well as the suffering of their families."

Palestinian Authority newspaper Al-Hayat al-Jadidah

"President Mahmoud Abbas welcomes the completion of the deal and regards it as an achievement for the Palestinians: 'We have been waiting for an agreement for a long time'."

Pro-Fatah Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam

"Some 203 prisoners are to be banished abroad, and another 131 sent to Gaza. The deal includes the release of six Israeli Arab prisoners."

Hamas-run Gaza newspaper website Filastin Online

"The Hamas military wing the Al-Qassam Brigades announce the sealing of the prisoner exchange deal. They said the deal will be implemented within days."

BBC Monitoringselects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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