On Sunday, Issa Karaka, the Palestinian Authority’s minister for jailed
terrorists, announced that in the next round of terrorist releases, Israel will
release not only Palestinian terrorist murderers, but Israeli Arabs who murdered
Israeli Jews in terrorist attacks.
As late as last week, Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu was said to have completely rejected the Palestinian demand.
But in response to Karaka’s statement, Netanyahu’s spokesman said only that the
release of Israeli Arab terrorists would be subject to the approval of the
government. In other words, Karaka was probably telling the truth.
question is what has changed? Why happened over the past week that forced
Netanyahu to cave? The obvious answer is that US Secretary of State John Kerry
came to Jerusalem, again. And he forced Netanyahu’s hand, again.
the Palestinians’ ace in the hole. He used the US’s limitless leverage on Israel
to coerce Israel into agreeing to pay for the privilege of speaking to
Palestinian negotiators who reject our country’s right to exist and extol as
heroes the terrorist scum who murder us.
For the pleasure of their
company, Kerry forced Israel to agree up-front to release scores of Palestinian
terrorist murderers. And he did so in bad faith.
According to a
high-ranking government official, Israel told Kerry it would release 82
murderers, none of whom are Israelis. And he agreed.
But then, during a
joint appearance with Kerry, PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas announced that Israel had
agreed to release 104 terrorists, including Israeli citizens. Rather than
correct him, Kerry went along, and so locked Israel into a concession it had
And now, with Kerry’s support, Karaka said that if Israel
refuses to release Israeli Arab murderers in the next round of releases, the PLO
will abandon the talks. The EU has already announced that it will blame Israel
for any PLO walkout.
It has been clear for some time that Israel is
playing a sucker’s game here.
The deck is stacked against us. Every step
Israel takes to either buy time or lessen US pressure only leads to more
Netanyahu reportedly agreed to release terrorists from prison
because Kerry told him that he had to make a big concession: either release
murderers or effectively surrender Israel’s national rights to Judea and Samaria
and Jerusalem by abrogating Jewish property rights in those areas through a
so-called construction freeze. As law professor Eugene Kontorovich explained
last week in Commentary, Netanyahu chose the terrorist release as the lesser of
two evils because it involved no long-term, substantive concession of Israel’s
national and legal rights to the Palestinians.
But then along came the
Palestinian- American demand for Israel to release Israeli Arab terrorists, and
transformed the Palestinian-American demand for Israel to release terrorists
from just another act of bad faith into an assault on Israel’s right to
For sovereignty to mean anything, a national government needs to
have the capacity to enforce its laws without prejudice on all of its citizens.
If this does not occur, over time, members of the group toward which national
authorities fail to apply the law will feel less loyal, less attached and less
obligated to that authority and, if there is a competing authority filling the
vacuum, that authority will come to enjoy more loyalty, attachment and
obligation from the spurned or immune citizens of the weakened national
The PLO’s demand that Israel release terrorists who hold
Israeli citizenship, (or in the case of Jerusalem residents, permanent
residency), is a clear bid to weaken Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem, and
over the Galilee and the Negev.
More generally it is an attempt to
undermine Israel’s right to assert its sovereign authority over
By the PLO’s calculations, if Israel’s right to assert its
sovereignty over its non-Jewish citizens and residents is sufficiently
discredited, then over time, the PLO can destroy Israeli democracy and undo
Israel’s national rights and sovereignty.
Since the onset of the
so-called peace process between Israel and the PLO in 1993, one of the PLO’s
strategic goals has been to win the Israeli Arabs over to its side and cause the
Israeli Arabs to reject their Israeli identity. The same has been the case for
Arab Jerusalemites who are permanent residents of Israel.
through 2000, the PLO spent tens of millions of dollars to advance this aim. And
to a large degree, they were successful. By the start of the Palestinian terror
war against Israel in 2000, the vast majority of Israeli Arabs rejected Israel’s
right to exist and all Arab MKs were openly opposed to Israel’s existence. The
Arab Israeli riots in October 2000, during which Israeli Arabs launched mob
assaults against Jews were a direct consequence of PLO incitement and subversion
of the Israeli Arab community over the previous seven years.
ensuing years, some of the deadliest terror attacks were carried out by terror
cells that included Israeli Arabs or Jerusalemites. The Silwan terror cell from
Jerusalem, which was most active in 2002 and 2003, carried out multiple
massacres that killed 35 Israelis and wounded hundreds more.
some Israeli Arabs and Jerusalemites joined the Palestinian campaign to destroy
Israel, many more embarked on an opposite path of full integration into Israeli
society. Since 2000, tens of thousands of Jerusalemites have applied for Israeli
Each year more and more Arab parents in Jerusalem – and
increasingly in the Galilee and Haifa – are registering their children in
Hebrew-language, Jewish schools.
The number of Christian Arabs enlisting
in the IDF has increased hundreds of percentage points over the past few years.
The number of Muslim and Christian Israeli Arabs volunteering in national
service is similarly skyrocketing.
Even Jerusalem residents are
volunteering for national service. And adult Arabs are integrating into all
levels of the job force countrywide.
As Nadav Shragai reported in
Friday’s Yisrael Hayom, Israel’s acquiescence last month to the
Palestinian-American demand to release five terrorist murderers from eastern
Jerusalem endangers the integrationist trend in the city. It strengthens the
hand of Hamas and the PLO over Israel by weakening the Arabs’ assessment of
Israel’s national authority.
Obviously, the same will occur in the
Galilee and Negev if Israel releases Israeli Arab terrorist murderers from
One of the reasons that most Israelis now recognize that the
peace process is a hoax is that the PLO continues to signal that a “final”
accord will not settle all Palestinian claims against Israel. The PLO intends to
use a “Palestine” in Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and Gaza to threaten and weaken
Israel’s sovereignty in its remaining territory. The PLO’s demand that Israel
free its own citizens from prison for acts of treason and murder is a clear
indication that this is in fact the group’s long-term plan.
support for the PLO’s demands on terrorists shows Israel two
First, at a minimum, Kerry doesn’t have a problem with the
Palestinian claim that Israel’s sovereign rights over non- Jews – and hence
Israel’s right to sovereignty generally – is limited at best. Second, it shows
that there are no concessions that Netanyahu can make to Kerry that will not
have dire long-term consequences for Israel.
Walking away from the phony
negotiations will be painful. But as Kerry’s demands indicate, the price for
remaining at the table gets higher by the day.