TODAY, Israel is set to undertake an incredibly wrongheaded prisoner exchange with the terrorist group Hezbollah. It's just the latest move in a troubling trend of unequal deals between the Jewish state and its declared enemies.
The swap, approved overwhelmingly by the Israeli cabinet, has the Israelis handing over five Lebanese prisoners, including the notorious terrorist Samir Kuntar, plus the bodies of 199 Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorists. In exchange, it will get two soldiers captured by Hezbollah in the summer of 2006 - though it's widely expected that it will only receive their remains - plus an 80-page Hezbollah report on captured Israeli airman Ron Arad. Excerpts of report released yesterday have revealed very little actual information, and the final product is likely to further disappoint.
But at least Israel is getting something in return. Consider another deal with terrorists - Israel's "truce" with the Hamas rulers of Gaza. Since the "truce" took effect on June 19, Israel has been hit by least 20 rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza.
What else can you expect from a group whose charter calls for Islam to "obliterate" Israel? Yet the Olmert government opted to "give peace a chance" with Hamas.
To be fair, Olmert was under great diplomatic pressure, including from the State Department. And Hamas, which pleaded for the truce, had pledged that all violence against Israel from Gaza would stop.
Indeed, Hamas isn't directly behind the launches. But, after the Islamic Jihad terrorist group claimed credit for the first missile volley of missiles, Hamas issued a statement saying that it wouldn't "police" the truce with Israel. In other words, You didn't really expect us to mean all violence, did you?
Israel should've expected no such thing. The last time it made a truce with Hamas, the terror group used the pause to smuggle vast amounts of weapons into Gaza from Egypt, including sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles, anti-tank missiles, rocket-propelled-grenade launchers and Katyusha rockets. Hamas later used much of it against Israel - missiles that have killed and wounded dozens of Israelis in the last two years.
Now it's letting other terror groups launch attacks from its territory. After the Islamic Jihad strike came one from the Fatah-aligned al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. A mortar attack last Monday prompted Israel to close off all border crossings with Gaza, only to reopen them a day later at Egypt's urging.
Indeed, Israel has closed and reopened the borders with Gaza four times, despite Hamas' brazen violations of the truce.
Remember, Hamas is the government of Gaza responsible for what goes on there, including cross-border attacks.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has also announced that Hamas will continue its smuggling along the Egypt-Gaza border - which again should surprise no one, since Hamas clearly only wanted the "commitment to calm" so it could resupply and rebuild its infrastructure.
What did Israel gain from this truce? Nothing concrete, such as the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. Merely Hamas' "promise" to enter into negotiations for another hugely unbalanced "prisoner swap," which will surely see Israel release dozens of Hamas operatives in exchange for Shalit.
This "truce" is eerily reminiscent of past Israeli agreements with the late Yasser Arafat, under similarly great international pressure. Despite Arafat's copious violations of the "peace" agreements, diplomatic pressure shielded him from major Israeli response.
Not only is Hamas failing to live up to its commitments in Gaza, it's still vigorously targeting Israeli civilians elsewhere: It recently claimed responsibility for a shooting attack that wounded three Israeli hikers north of Ramallah.
By continuing this charade, Israel is doing more than merely letting Hamas regroup and get away with murder. It's affording Hamas legitimacy that's likely to lead European governments to soften their already porous sanctions against the terror group, paving the way for public meetings with Hamas officials.
After all, if Israel can enter into an agreement with Hamas, why can't the Europeans?
So, as Hamas targets hikers in the West Bank and blatantly violates the "truce" in Gaza, perhaps the Israeli government will come to its senses and reconsider its deal with the devil.
Steven Emerson is executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, the largest US repository of intelligence, national security and terrorism documents and videos.