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Page last updated at 13:59 GMT, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 14:59 UK

Hezbollah wins in prisoner deal - press

Vehicles leave the Hadarim prison in Israel carrying Lebanese prisoners
Vehicles leave the Hadarim prison in Israel carrying Lebanese prisoners

Press commentators both in Israel and the Arab world view the prisoner exchange deal as a clear victory for Hezbollah over Israel.

One Lebanese paper describes it as a source of "national pride" while one Arab commentator suggests the deal could form a launch-pad for increased Palestinian resistance to Israel.

While Israeli commentators welcome the return of the two soldiers, they are also sharply critical of Ehud Olmert's government. One, however, says that Israel has had to make fewer concessions than in previous prisoner swaps.

RAUF SHAHURI IN LEBANON'S AL-ANWAR

This day has united the Lebanese and made them renounce their differences, even if only temporarily. It has also achieved the unity of the state... It is a day for the whole of Lebanon: the state, the government, parliament, the judiciary, the army, the security forces and the people, without any antagonism or sectarian grudges.

GEORGE NASIF IN LEBANON'S AL-NAHAR

Today is a day of national pride... It is a victory over Israel's violation of Lebanon, through Hezbollah's liberation of the last group of prisoners in a wonderful test of power against the enemy.

MUHAMMAD AL-KHIDR IN SYRIA'S AL-BAATH

Hezbollah's new victory should not pass by with just this temporary celebration... there are very significant lessons and factors that should not be overlooked. Foremost among these is that the long arm of the Israeli war machine is liable to twisting and breaking if it has not already been broken in the July 2006 war.

EDITORIAL IN UAE'S AL-KHALIJ

This process should constitute the starting point for Arab pressure, based on unified Palestinian action, aimed at liberating the thousands of Palestinian prisoners held in the cells of the occupation state.

EITAN HABER IN ISRAEL'S YEDIOT AHARONOT

Ehud and Eldad are returning home. If the reports are correct, they will come home in coffins... In fairness there is a need to admit that the deal to be implemented this morning is one of the 'cheapest' Israel had known, almost the best... In previous exchange deals we paid much more.

EYAL MEGED IN ISRAEL'S MAARIV

This is a grim, depressing day. Another day in Israel's long history of irresponsibility and lack of judgment demonstrated by those who aspire to be in charge of the integrity and security of the state. These expressions that are tossed into the air again and again - deal, prisoner exchange, bringing the sons home - are conjuring tricks... not the agenda of a sober, confident policy.

AMIR MIZROCH IN ISRAEL'S JERUSALEM POST

Does the deal strengthen Hezbollah? Yes. In the eyes of the Arab world, Hezbollah pulled off a major victory: it survived a war against Israel, kept a million Israelis in bomb shelters for a month and got its POWs back, including an important symbol, Samir Quntar... In the eyes of the Hezbollah leadership and much of the Arab world, the deal is a victory.

EDITORIAL IN ISRAEL'S JERUSALEM POST

Today will bring difficult images of a Hezbollah-dominated Lebanon celebrating a slaughterer of innocents and of an Israel mourning its fallen. That disparity of images reflects the yawning gulf of values between Israel and too many of its neighbours.

BBC Monitoring selects 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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