Death For Land: Israel And Palestine Peace Deal Makes More Trouble Ahead
ONE man’s hero is another man’s terrorist or murderer. What to make of the news in the New York Times of peace deals between Israel and the Palestinians? The BBC reports:
Israeli authorities have freed a group of 26 Palestinian prisoners as part of a US-brokered agreement to resume direct peace talks. The prisoners were greeted by cheering crowds on their return to the West Bank and Gaza.
Israel approved the releases on Saturday, but they were delayed to allow victims’ families to appeal. The prisoners committed murder or attempted murder before the 1993 Oslo accords and have served 19 to 28 years.
The New York Times notes this:
As part of the negotiating process, Mr. Netanyahu agreed to release 104 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails over nine months rather than halt settlement construction. But when Mr. Abbas welcomed the latest group to the West Bank this week, Mr. Netanyahu accused him of embracing terrorists, even though Mr. Abbas never condoned the prisoners’ crimes.
What he said was:
“Today is a day of joy for our people, our families and our prisoner heroes. We promise that this won’t be the last time that prisoners are released.”
“While we prepare to take very painful steps in an effort to try and reach an agreement that would end the conflict, they, along with their top leadership, are celebrating.”
The Times of Israel has list of the released prisoners and their crimes:
Abu al Rub Mustafa Mahmoud Faisal and Kamil Awad Ali Ahmad, convicted of murder in the killing of 20-year-old IDF soldier Yoram Cohen in a shootout in the West Bank town of Jenin. Ali Ahmad was also convicted of kidnapping, torturing and murdering 15 Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel. Faisal was convicted of manslaughter in four of those cases.
Is he a hero? He sounds a lot like a murdering lunatic.
Are child killers Hakim and Amjad Awad heroes? Rumours abound they are to be released. But Abbas is not out for blood. He called their crimes ”despicable and inhuman”.
But what about the victims’ families?
“One of the things we knew when we captured these detainees is that they needed to stay in prison for the maximum period,” Meir Indor of Israeli victims’ association, Almagor, told the Jerusalem Post. “These men are time-bombs. Wherever they go they kill, because that’s the purpose of their lives.”
YNet news has more on what the Israeli government seek from the deal:
Israel’s move to release the 104 Palestinian prisoners jailed from before the 1993 Oslo Accords as a goodwill gesture to the Palestinians came in response to right-wing reluctance to accept a freeze in settlement construction. Thus, following every round of prisoner releases, Netanyahu’s office is quick to publish new tenders for construction of thousands of new housing units beyond Jerusalem’s 1967 borders.
Netanyahu chose a prisoner release over a freeze in settlement construction. He agreed to the killers going free.
Science Minister Jacob Perry unimpressed:
“I am angry that the prime minister and other elements in the government are tying the prisoner release with construction. Will the bereaved families be consoled by the fact we’re going to build a thousand more [housing] units in Itamar or Alfei Menashe? What’s the connection? This irritates me.”
This view speaks for many. If Netanyahu has already undertaken to make this goodwill gesture, it would be best if he were to enjoy the international dividend that comes with it and not ruin things with a populist announcement about new construction,” said Shimon Shiffer, a columnist with the Yediot Ahronot daily paper. Netanyahu is like a cow that gives a bucketful of milk, only to kick the bucket over.”