Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Families of missing Iranian Jews cry foul

The Israeli government 's prisoner exchange deal with Hezbollah neglects the 12 missing Jews believed to have been imprisoned in Iran more than a decade ago, and gives Iran valuable information in exchange for - nothing. The Forward reports on their families' anger:

Los Angeles — In the wake of Israel’s prisoner swap deal with Hezbollah, the families of Iranian Jews that have disappeared are crying foul.

The day after Israel announced its agreement to exchange five Lebanese prisoners for the bodies of the soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, six Iranian Jewish families based in Israel, and one based in Los Angeles, petitioned the High Court of Israel to block the controversial deal. The families, whose relatives disappeared in the 1990s while trying to emigrate from Iran and go to Israel, are insisting that any deal include information on the whereabouts of the 12 men who went missing.

The Iranian Jews’ petition underscores the growing chorus of opposition to the Israeli government’s decision. Critics of the deal — in which body parts of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers will be traded for prisoners, including Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar and the bodies of fallen Hezbollah soldiers — contend that Israel is getting far too little from the exchange, thereby damaging its credibility. The Iranian Jewish families are echoing a similar concern: As part of the swap deal, Israel reportedly agreed to provide information to Iran on four Iranian diplomats who were kidnapped in Lebanon in 1982. But representatives of the seven families say that the Israeli government failed them by not requiring Iran to give information on the 12 who disappeared in return.

“This is information that Iran wants, and it means it’s really critical to them. Therefore she might have agreed to pay a little higher price for the information if the Israeli government would have just asked,” said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the Israeli lawyer who is working on behalf of the seven families. “By giving this information and not getting anything in return, the Israeli government neglected the missing Jews, abandoned them once again.”

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