On Wednesday the Knesset “discussed America’s demand that Israel release terrorists as a good will gesture to the Palestinian Authority.” The demand is part of intensive efforts by Secretary of State John Kerry to revive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on a peace settlement—efforts that are amazing in their own right considering that the Palestinian Authority has consistently shown for 20 years that it is incapable of accepting Israel and not interested in a state “living in peace” beside it.
Kerry—with Iran at the brink of a nuclear capability, Syria a maelstrom of clashing terror factions, Egypt close to economic collapse, and North Korea threatening nuclear aggression—has in recent weeks been meeting with PA president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, Riyadh, Amman, and Istanbul.
Abbas’s preconditions for resuming negotiations are the same as they have been for years: Israel committing beforehand to a withdrawal to indefensible borders, prohibiting Jewish building in Judea, Samaria, and parts of Jerusalem, and releasing terrorists from prison. Israel is reportedly, at this point, rejecting all these demands.
The Obama administration is also “preparing a multi-billion dollar economic initiative that would bring international businesses and major infrastructure projects to the West Bank”—again, nothing essentially new but, rather, part of a 20-year tradition of Israeli, U.S., and European efforts to bribe the Palestinians into adopting Western norms and practices of peace, prosperity, and tolerance.
Meanwhile the terrorists the U.S. is pushing Israel to release include the killers of:
● Amnon Pomerantz, stoned by a mob in Gaza in 1990 and then burned to death in his car
● Yigal Vaknin, stabbed to death in an orchard in 1993
● Rachel Weiss and her three young sons Ephraim, Netanel, and Raphael, all burned to death in a firebomb attack on a bus in the Jordan Valley in 1988.
● Menachem Stern, a 64-year-old acclaimed historian stabbed to death in Jerusalem in 1989
And, again, it is unsurprising and “traditional” that freeing terrorists is seen as the way to propitiate Abbas, who systematically instills a cult of hero-worship of terrorists and most recently officially honored a terrorist named Issa Abd Rabbo who, in 1984:
killed two Israeli university students, Ron Levi and Revital Seri, who were hiking south of Jerusalem. At gun point he tied them up, put bags over their heads and then shot and murdered both. He is serving two life sentences in an Israeli prison….
It is, sadly enough, a bipartisan tradition, with then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice having been full of praise in August 2008 for a release by the left-leaning Olmert government of 198 Palestinian security prisoners including two convicted murderers—then, too, as a “gesture” to Abbas.
On Wednesday in the Knesset, Ofer Akunis, a deputy minister from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud minister, claimed Israel has no intention of complying with Kerry and releasing the terrorists. MK Orit Struk of the Bayit Yehudi party, part of the governing coalition, called the demand
shocking…not just because of the danger that these terrorists will return to terrorist activity once they are released, but because the release of terrorists is an energizing shot of encouragement to terror and terrorists.
It seems obvious enough. It is true that Israel has itself freed many terrorists as ransom for Israeli soldiers or civilians held by terror organizations—sometimes, in my view, justified as a lesser evil than abandoning the captives to their fate. Freeing terrorists to butter-up the likes of Abbas is a different matter, especially when called for by leaders of a democracy that is itself subject to terror.
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