By Daniella Peled
February 26, 2009
What on earth was this broiges all about?
Gilad Shalit has been sitting in some godforsaken Hamas dungeon since June 2006, enduring a horrific captivity in no doubt inhumane conditions and with no access to the Red Cross.
Meanwhile, in Israel, just when the deal to free him seems to be close, an almighty hissy fit erupts in the political echelons.
Amos Gilad, Israel's envoy in the Shalit negotiations, says something rude about Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's handling of the situation.
So Olmert suspends him. Then Gilad refuses to apologise. So Olmert issues a formal complaint. Back-and-forth they go, until finally Gilad is convinced to provide a fulsome apology in person and allowed to get back to the negotiations
Of course, if a civil servant in the UK had said anything as inappropriate as Gilad did about the prime minister, he would have been fired immediately.
But this is Israel. Gilad is essential for these precarious talks. And this fight had more to do with personal rivalry between two men with vast egos - and Olmert's long-running feud with Gilad's boss, Ehud Barak.
The whole spat was a pointless waste of time. The Friends of Gilad Shalit campaign group had it spot on when they published a statement that had Israel's leaders invested half as much effort in securing Gilad's release as they did in internal politics, he would have been home long ago."
Olmert, with only got a few weeks to go until he leaves office, desperately wants to see Shalit freed while he is still PM. But can he overcome his ego long enough for that to happen?