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Israel: state comptroller criticises lack of clarity for role of missing soldier negotiator

January 4, 2023 at 10:38 am

Israeli police take security measures as Israeli Forces demolish a house of Palestinian in Jerusalem. [Mostafa Alkharouf – Anadolu Agency]

Israel’s State Comptroller, Matanyahu Englman, said on Tuesday that the job description of the chief negotiator for missing soldiers has not been established by anyone, the Times of Israel has reported.

Over the years, the negotiators have been acting without the Prime Minister’s Office ever actually establishing their responsibilities, authority or any detailed framework for the role, said Englman.

The latest senior negotiator, Yaron Blum, resigned in October after nearly five years in the position. His predecessor, Lior Lotan, served between 2014 and 2017.

The Knesset’s 2012 Shamgar Commission set out conditions for a prisoner swap, but none of the following Israeli governments has discussed them, claimed Englman. He noted that only one security cabinet meeting held in June 2014 discussed the commission’s recommendations.

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“The comptroller found that there were no further discussions by the government, the [security] cabinet or any other committee of ministers regarding the Shamgar Commission’s recommendations,” he pointed out.

Englman added that information held by the Prime Minister’s Office about the chief negotiator’s work was not handled in an orderly fashion. Indeed, the negotiator himself had “minimal” information about his predecessor’s work.

The Times of Israel also reported that a family member of one of the Israelis held captive in the Gaza Strip told Englman that a meeting she had with one of the negotiators was “void of content” and he did not present any “significant information” regarding the efforts to return her relative.

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