Peace Is Not at Hand

P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva and author of the book Choosing Life in Israel. 


ce40f_w-abbas-netanyahu-cp-930906American-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace talks—or perhaps, talks supposedly leading up to peace talks—are on for today in Washington. A last-minute hitch was cleared up.

Last week Israel’s international relations minister Yuval Steinitz had announced that Israel had agreed to a Palestinian demand and would, in the course of the talks, be freeing 84 Palestinian security prisoners from the pre-1993 period, some of them, as he put it, “heavyweights.”

The heavyweights include, for instance, Mahmoud Salam Saliman Abu Harabish and Adam Ibrahim Juma’a-Juma’a, who in 1988 hurled a firebomb at an Israeli civilian bus in the Jordan Valley. Twenty-six-year-old Rachel Weiss, her three children aged three, two, and nine months, and a young soldier who tried to rescue them all burned to death.

For many people, the fact that Abu Harabish, Juma’a-Juma’a, and many others like them will—if the talks progress—be released, in compliance with the Palestinian demand, is perfectly compatible with high hopes for peace and an end to what they call the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Things seemed to be running smoothly, then—except that over the weekend the Palestinian side upped their demand from 84 prisoners to 104. And they made it a flat, brazenly extortionate ultimatum: 104 prisoners, not 84, or we’re not showing up on Monday.

The United States and Israel caved.

To say that the Obama administration caved is probably a misnomer, since there is no indication that President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry find the release of the Palestinian prisoners in the least bit troubling. Indeed, Kerry first began heavily pressuring Israel to release them immediately after the Boston Marathon terror attack.

For Israel the pill was a bit harder to swallow.

A poll had already found 84% of Jewish Israelis opposing the release of terrorists as a condition for restarting talks with the Palestinians. Seventy-eight percent opposed releasing them even if the talks resumed and releases were required to keep them going, and 73% said that, in any case, the talks would not lead to an agreement that would resolve the conflict.

These numbers contrast sharply with the large majority of Israelis who supported the release of a thousand Palestinian security prisoners, including heinous terrorists, for captive soldier Gilad Shalit in October 2011. In that case, Israelis felt they were getting something precious—the life and freedom of the soldier—in return. In the present case, a large majority feel they’ll be getting nothing in return except sham talks.

Aware of this problem, over the weekend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote an open letter to the Israeli public that seeks to explain and justify the prisoner release.

It’s an interesting document, tantalizingly open to interpretation. In its key passage Netanyahu states:

At the present time, I believe it is of the utmost importance for the State of Israel to enter a diplomatic process. This is important both to exhaust the possibilities of ending the conflict with the Palestinians and to establish Israel’s position in the complex international reality around us.

The major changes in our region—in Egypt, Syria and in Iran—not only pose challenges for the State of Israel but they also present significant opportunities for us.

Here Netanyahu seems to imply that Israel will be in a stronger position, with greater sympathy and diplomatic backing, to attack Iran’s nuclear program if it is perceived to be behaving well by holding talks with the Palestinians. The other possibility is that the words were crafted as a sop to hawkish Israelis who tend to bitterly oppose the prisoner release.

In any case, there has been no indication that the letter mollified the Israeli public’s opposition to the move. On Sunday relatives of victims of the prisoners slated to be released held an anguished demonstration outside of the government complex in Jerusalem. On Sunday afternoon the Israeli cabinet voted 13-7 to approve the prisoner release, while also approving a bill to submit any peace agreement to a national referendum.

Peace is not at hand. The demand to free a hundred murderers as a precondition for talking peace is a barbarian demand. It was made by Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, a tiny, corrupt, economically tottering, hate-ridden dictatorship. It was submitted to by the United States and Israel, still the two leading lights of civilization in our time. It is not a pretty sight.

By the most favorable possible interpretation, for Israel the whole charade—including the prospective prisoner releases—is a necessary sacrifice toward larger purposes. But that, too—with so many hints and threats already having been issued regarding Iran—needs to be seen to be believed.

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  • Mladen_Andrijasevic
    • wildjew

      Iran might join the nuclear club which, truth be known, is what Obama wants. Obama has been having his way thus far with PM Netanyahu.

    • Nighthawk

      “Prime ministers are not needed to make the decisions that the public already supports. – B.N.

      A rhetorical flourish worthy of The Queen Of Hearts.

  • Hank Rearden

    Negotiations do not work on many levels. At the highest level, they suggest that Israel is illegitimate and must legitimate itself through the negotiating process. That has been very damaging over time.

    What is the point of releasing terrorists? The Palestinians demand it to delegitimize Israeli legal processes and to maintain that killing Israelis is not a crime.

    Netanyahu seems to be a good guy, so we have to assume that there is some method here, presumably that Israel has to appear to give some credence to ignorant American entreaties for a “peace process.”

    But Israel has dropped the ball on high strategy in the public debate. They have a General Staff for military affairs but they lack a General Staff for public argument. Why aren’t the charters of the PLO and of Hamas better known? Why aren’t they the first documents to be read, the first words to be spoken, by Israeli negotiators?

    Israel is not establishing the predicate for its existence in the public sphere. Yes, we get it that Israel feels it should not have to make that argument, but because of its unique position, it does.

    • StanleyT

      Excellent post. Israel needs to loudly and frequently proclaim its legitimacy in very real terms.

      It needs to make the world aware of the San Remo Conference of 1920, the actual text of the Mandate for Palestine and the fact that these words were enshrined in international law in Chapter 80 of the UN Charter. It needs to remind the world that if it disputes the legality of Israel, it must equally dispute the legality of Syria, Lebanon and Mesopotamia (Iraq), all created by the same process.

      It needs to explain to the world that only Israeli agreement – and nothing else, not Palestinian demands, not International Red Cross declarations of whether or not the “settlements” are legal – can change that international law.

      It needs to explain that in 1948, Israel offered to change this international law and share some of the land given to it under international law. As it stood, the UN Partition Plan on its own was not a rewriting of international law because it was a General Assembly resolution. If both sides had agreed to it, it would then have become law, but one side did not. The Arabs attacked, rendering the plan null and void.

      Israel needs to remind the world of the wording of UNSC resolution 242, which calls for secure borders – not “1967 borders” – and Israel needs to explain that there is and never was such a thing as a “1967 border”.

      The truly staggering thing is that Israel never does any of this.

      • wildjew

        You can explain these things to Israel-haters until you are blue in the face. They continue to maintain Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria, Jerusalem, etc., is contrary to international law. Other than Israel’s supporters, most could care less. Some have told me if Israel does not stand up for her own interests and survival, why should leaders in Washington?

    • wildjew

      PM Netanyahu might be a nice guy and a bright man and a well-informed man but he projects weakness. What Israel needs is someone with faith in God like David. Do you think David would bow to immoral pressure from U.S. and the Europeans? What we are lacking in Israel’s leaders is faith. Only a man of faith can withstand this kind of immoral pressure. Maybe a man like Naftali Bennett has faith. We’ll see.

      • Edward

        wildjew AKBAR!

      • Snorbak

        You have hit the nail on the head. Trust in God, moral courage & conviction in the face of overwhelming pressure is what is required. I believe that there is a method to Netanyahu’s madness, in that he will be able to, post talks, demonstrate a willingness to meet outrageous demands & claim the moral high ground after the talks fail, but a lack of faith is driving such poor decisions.
        The correct way forward after the talks fail, I believe, would be to 1st; declare Israeli sovereignty over all of the “disputed” lands citing the continued failure of “negotiations” & the Arab failure to accept the original UN Partition Plan rendering it null & void, 2nd; give citizenship to all “Palestinian” Arabs within Israels borders, 3rd; declare that the “Palestinian refugee’s” are to be absorbed into their existing host countries & 4th; declare any & all further aggression against Israeli territory with specific reference to civilian population centers will be considered an act of war & that Israel will respond accordingly.
        The world will despise you for it but hey, they hate you already so nothing will change. May God bless Israel.

        • wildjew

          You have much wisdom in that you believe trust in God is central.

          • Nabuquduriuzhur

            Indeed. I forget which book of the Law at the moment it’s in, but God said Israel would fall away from Him and be scattered twice. This happened with the divided kingdom and in the Diaspora. The book of Ezekiel predicts that the land would ready itself when Israel came home and that no one would ever scatter them again.

            Four invasions later, Israel is still there.

      • gemitlich

        I have been saying this exacting thing for years and in particular now. Israel needs to have faith the Hashem is with His people and He promised. As long as Israel is faithful and puts her trust in Hashem only (not in any man, noble, nation of the earth or “saint”) then and only then with Israel truly prevail and was promised.

    • cathy

      Excellent comment!!

  • Omar

    When will boehner act and stop the madness.

    • wildjew

      You do know, the Republican party like the Democratic party is equally committed to Israel’s destruction. Little doubt this is offense to people who don’t want to hear anything negative about the GOP. If you don’t think pressuring Israel to cede strategic land to these killers is part of the Palestinian’s plan to destroy Israel, read the PLO’s Phased Plan, the Hamas Charter, etc. You don’t think Speaker Boehner is aware of this? George W. Bush made the establishment of a Muslim-enemy state in Israel a formal goal of U.S. policy. He codified it in our national party platform, August 2004. Mitt Romney fought conservatives on our national platform writing committee last August for the Palestinian terror cause. Obama might be more dedicated to Israel’s destruction but Republicans leaders aren’t too far behind.

      • Edward

        How can you expect more from Hagee than Netenyahu?

        Netenyahu has to explain his (and his advisors – some of whom are Likud and agree to the release of the arab terrorists) decision to the Israeli people AND the supporters of Israel.

        • wildjew

          I understand your point. This is essentially what Gary Bauer told me. How can I expect Bush, Romney, Hagee, Bauer, whomever, to be “more Catholic than the pope?” For American Christians, Jews etc., that are people of faith, this argument does not wash. Why? Because God told His prophet, He would judge those nations that divide His land. That means America is under God’s judgment because the United States is leading this global effort to divide the land of Israel. “I will bless those who bless you and the one who curses you, I will curse,” the Almighty assured Abraham and then repeatedly vowed: “To you and your descendants I will give this land.” Because Israel’s secular leaders are weak, because they lack faith in God and are easily pressured to make immoral concessions by American presidents, when a Christian or a Jewish believer stands before God’s servant in the world to come, do you really think this excuse will stand scrutiny, namely: “How can you expect more from me and the politicians I supported than from Israel’s leaders?”

          There is much to commend this verse I think:

          Ecc 5:6 Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands?

  • Philip Wallace

    Peace will not happen until Chrisitans worldwide are raptured, then the anti-Christ will broker peace, and the Jews will build their temple. No one knows the day or the hour. The last trump at the feast of Trumpets on Sept 6 would be splendid, if I were a date setter, but I’m not. I am looking forward to being in heaven, shedding the mortality and corruption of the current human state.

    • RevRoy

      Amen !!!!!!!

  • poetcomic1

    When the leaders of a country go against almost 9/10ths of the will of the people of that country something is very, very wrong.

  • jordanariel

    American Jewish me feels that releasing murderers for the privilege of the palestinians sitting at the negotiating table is reprehensible beyond words. Israeli’s have every right to be outraged. I’m not even Israeli but i’m outraged. Of course i am also a Republican…. and vote as such. Palestinian negotiator is an oxymoron.

  • SoCalMike

    Obama and John Kerry deserve to be horsewhipped for applying this perverse demonic pressure on Israel.
    A pox on both of them.

  • Gee

    There is only one way to prevent this farce – the IDF needs to stop taking prisoners. Shoot to kill on sight instead

  • GerriAttricks

    Sure release them. But first surreptitiously install tracking chips on them.
    Then later we can find them and administer the justice they should have received in the first place.

    • GerriAttricks

      meant as reply to Gee

  • The Dead Critic

    As the news broke out that John Kerry had brokered a deal to get the Middle East peace process moving again, I realized the liberal mafia news agency had DISTORTED the truth per usual. Kerry did NOTHING to move the process forward, but was HIMSELF maneuvered by the Palestinians (an ancient Roman designation, NOT a real nation of HISTORICAL origin) while accepting an open invitation. Kerry IS, and ALWAYS will be naive, and utterly LOST in politics. His constituents are fools for repeatedly voting him into office.

  • tokoloshiman

    Israel has little option unfortunately but to go along with whatever hair brained
    newly hatched talks about talks the USA comes up with. Expediency trumps all else and money rules even more so now because of the EU boycott.
    Israel cannot afford to be completely alone and the pariah of the world forever
    so it is forced into these situations that to the ordinary man on both sides of the street, Arab and Israeli , have absolutely zero chance of working.
    As the palestinians are already the recipients of every ounce of sympathy the world can offer, it is Israel who needs to continually bend or be seen even more as an unwilling partner for peace no matter how impossible this dream is, and despite the fact that the truth is right there for all to see in the hamas charter that openly calls for the annihilation of Israel.
    Add this to the continual brain washing, hatred, libel, wrong facts and that jews are pigs and dogs etc, stuffed into their children’s brains from the day they are born, then one can only realize that any chance of a meaningful agreement is as far or even further away now than it was in 1948 when Golda Meir offered the olive branch of peace and instead got continual war.
    nothing has changed since then except that the israelis are more cynical and the world more blind than it ever was to the Israeli plight and their continual struggle for survival in a hostile murderous environment fueled by the oldest hatred of all , ably abetted by the catalyst of the arab hordes smarting over their various defeats at the hands of “puny” Israel and not being able to get over it, it being an affront to their so called honor.
    The farcical negotiations will continue , but the underlying issues can not be solved without a cleansing of the mind by the arabs.

  • INTOLERANTOFEVIL

    -ISRAEL- could end this -B S- by using it’s nuclear weapons on every Arab and or Muslim nation in the world, problem solved….

    • AmericaFirst

      I support this idea, but only if, say, Pakistan nukes Israel in return. Then the BS would really end. Oy, can you imagine it? Huh, can you? Answer me, you goyim pigs!

      • INTOLERANTOFEVIL

        Wow, you hate the Jews just as bad as I hate the animals….

      • Anamah

        Only you ‘ll find a little problem with your stupid idea, America is first in the Pakistani list…

      • Edward

        India and Pakistan nearly had a nuclear exchange – a dispute over ownership of land – Kashmir.

        Land Dispute sound familiar?

        India can take care of Pakistan.

  • macdaddy31

    Yes, asking for the release of these prisoners is a barbarian demand, and peace is only possible when/if the “Palestinians” would not dream of asking for such a thing and would want these demons in prison nearly as much as Israelis. But pragmatically speaking, I do not believe releasing these prisoners will get what Netanyahu theoretically expects. I think that demeaning oneself always ends up in lowering your status in the eyes of those around you and makes it less likely that you will receive respect in the carrying out of obligations or in behavior toward you going forward. I just think Netanyahu’s calculations were wrong.

  • AmericaFirst

    Please, please let this Semitic scum nuke one another and save the rest of us a giant “kopvaitic.” The US has absolutely no interest in supporting either the backstabbing Israeli jews or their camel-schtupping Arab cousins (and would be doing itself a giant favor by cutting loose the former). Now I’ll sit back and let the kvetching commence.

    • Bert

      This character is really a traitor because he would allow Iran to acquire the means to attack the U.S. as well as Israel. Iran has long made it clear that the U.S. is the “Great Satan”. Their nuke program is really massive with the potential to hit the U.S. with many ICBM’s and even EMP weapons. This is far more than the few short range missiles needed to eliminate Israel. The problem with loonies like AmericaFirst is that their blind hatred clouds their minds making them incoherent. However it is useful to be reminded of what kind of demented people are out there.

    • http://israelisverige.info Ralph Haglund

      Ever read the long list of American hi-tech companies using the brain power of Israel? Some have tried to estimate the monetary value and it is awful, extremely much higher than what USA pays. Ever saw the estimates of USA not having to keep soldiers in Beirut anymore but trusting Israel? At least when the leaders are not like Olmert.

  • Bert

    This is what happens when Jewish leaders allow brazen lies to take root over many years. By now too many people believe in the false narrative of the so-called Palestinians which has been established with collaboration by the U.S. government and much of the Jewish public. It takes courage to insist on speaking truth to power. The Muslims have the courage to never waver from their lies while the Jews lack the courage to speak the truth and to demand their rights.

  • Drakken

    Note to Israel, quit screwing around with those arab savages an give them what they deserve, turn Gaza into Carthage and boot every arab out of the west bank and call it a day. The muslims no matter what you do are still going to hate every Jew in Israel and want you all dead. Every time they get uppity, call in rolling arty barrages and never take one of their prisoner and only hand back a bucket of ashes as a sign of good faith. Every time you show weakness to these savages, they are going to take a mile and give you nothing but jihad in return. Let allah sortem out.

  • delm31_nabla@yahoo.com

    And it never will be as far as the Islamic world is concerned. Israel is seen as no different from the Crusader Kingdom of 10 centuries ago. Instead of being part of the Middle East map, it is seen as a foreign presence to be eliminated as a matter of sacred Muslim honor. This is little understood in Western countries. If any land under the “House of Islam” is captured and occupied by the “infidel,” it is the duty of Muslims to retake that land for Islam, no matter how long it takes.

  • William James Ward

    It is better to have the bums in the Palestinian areas when the
    big flash takes place and the world is relieved of the vile creatures.
    Hard to see the women and children get it also but they would
    only continue the same old same old murder and violence, time
    will be up soon enough……………..William

  • Jsjk

    In my opinion so long as Obama is president, I do not consider the United States as a leading light of civilization in the world. Barbarism, yes (in so far as Obama lends support for terrorist murderers, sponsors liars in the missed-named “justice” dept, fuels corrupt dictatorships and thieves with American tax money, and operates like a Gangland style Mafia accountable to no one and above the law, yeah, that’s not evidence of “civilization.” I consider Obama a psychopathic tyrant. And the situation, I believe, will grow only worse. Obama’s latest move is typical for his gangster-style “politics”. Note the “win-win” for Obama here? If Netanyahu refused to concede to the prisoner release, I’m sure the psychopath had some “punishment” lined up (probably to the detriment of all Israel); and if Netanyahu agreed to the prisoner release, then the pschopath can hope/pray for the bloodshed to begin or cause Netanyahu lots of political strife and turmoil — we all know the psycho wants Labour to govern Israel.