In his Oct. 21, 2011, Baker Institute Blog post, Yair Hirschfeld, Ph.D., the Isaac and Mildred Brochstein Fellow in Middle East Peace and Security in Honor of Yitzhak Rabin at the Baker Institute, examines the ramifications of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit's release .

Shalit recently returned to Israel following the Israeli government's decision to release more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for his freedom. He was kidnapped in 2006 by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which does not recognize Israel.

The prisoner swap led to speculation that more dialogue might be possible in this volatile region, as Hirschfeld discusses:

"The good news extends beyond the important humanitarian relief. The prisoner exchange makes it possible to stabilize the non-official cease-fire between Israel and the Hamas leadership, which governs the Gaza Strip. The bad news is that the Hamas is rewarded for a criminal act of aggression."