Israeli-Lebanese Prisoner Swap, Set for Tomorrow, Could Stir New Resentment

A Lebanese militant convicted of murder will be traded for two Israeli soldiers who are possibly dead.

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Israel's cabinet has given final approval to a controversial new prisoner swap with Lebanon.

Representatives from the United Nations will oversee Wednesday's handover at a seaside border crossing, where officials will trade a Lebanese militant convicted on murder charges for two captured Israeli soldiers who are widely believed to be dead.

The swap represents some unfinished business from Israel's inconclusive war with Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group in the summer of 2006, which was sparked by the capture of the two soldiers included in the deal.

This prisoner exchange follows an emotionally charged debate in Israel, which has long vowed never to leave its soldiers behind in the battlefield.

But the price is painfully high. The Lebanese militant who will be freed is Samir Kuntar, who was convicted of bludgeoning a 4-year-old Israeli girl in 1979 after shooting her father and drowning him in the sea.

As U.S. News wrote about recently, there is a separate high-profile prisoner swap being discussed with the Palestinian militant group Hamas. But the hero's welcome that Kuntar is likely to receive when he returns to Lebanon is sure to incense many Israelis, particularly if the soldiers are indeed confirmed to have been killed.