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Last Updated: Monday, 26 January, 2004, 10:22 GMT
Prisoner deal delights Arab press

The agreement on a prisoner exchange between Israel and the Lebanon-based Islamic group Hezbollah is warmly welcomed in Monday's Arabic press.

Some editorials stress that the German-brokered deal shows Israel has recognised Hezbollah as a movement engaged in a "legitimate struggle".

Palestinian papers express their happiness, but one London-based daily criticises the Palestinian leadership for failing to achieve similar results during its long-standing talks with the Israelis.

Through this agreement, Israel has clearly acknowledged the legitimacy of the resistance. Israel negotiated with Hezbollah and by doing so, all its allegations and fabrications describing the Islamic resistance as nothing but a terrorist organisation have collapsed.

Saudi Al-Jazirah

The agreement to exchange prisoners between Hezbollah and Israel... has made Israel recognize Hezbollah as a legitimate struggle movement, not a terrorist organization... This agreement is a great political victory for Hezbollah.

UAE's Al-Bayan

News of the prisoner swap between Hezbollah and Israel under German auspices elicited joy from family members of the detained and appeals from non-governmental organisations to respect international law... The Daily Star met the family of Ali Balhas in the town of Siddiqine in Bint Jbeil; he was detained by the Israelis during a Hezbollah operation. His mother said with a smile upon on her face: "I have not celebrated the Eid ever since he was detained... Today I was born again.

Lebanon's Daily Star

Sharon's manoeuvres and his investment wishes do not spoil all the positive talk about Hezbollah and the success it achieved. Sharon cannot spoil our happiness at the release of our liberated prisoners.

Palestinian Al-Ayyam (commentary by Talal Okal)

With the conclusion of the German deal, Hezbollah has been elevated almost to the level of a state. Israel has decided to give it minefield maps. This is a new element in prisoner swap deals... Hezbollah has become a broker for the Lebanese state that defends its rights... and its sovereignty over its occupied lands.

Palestinian Al-Ayyam (commentary by Hasan Al-Batal)

Even without considering the prisoner swap deal between Hezbollah and the Hebrew state, the distinguished political and security performance of this Lebanese party has attracted attention for years...

A thousand salutes to [Hezbollah secretary-general Al-Sayyid Hasan] Nasrallah... for his political and security performance, language, transparency, and education. We are grateful to him for his deep identification with the families of our detainees, freedom's detainees.

Palestinian Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah (commentary by Adli Sadiq)

This deal to free the POWs will teach the Zionist government in general, and the Palestinian Authority in particular, a big lesson... It is unfortunate that the Palestinian Authority's negotiations for the past 10 years did not succeed in compelling successive Israeli governments to release Arab and the Palestinian POWs...

Hezbollah has many Israeli POWs in its hands, and it will be possible to exchange them for more Arab and Palestinian POWs. Anyway, the work of the resistance is still continuing and it will never be difficult for the resistance to capture some new Israeli POWs.

London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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