Abbas greets Palestinian prisoners 521.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini)
What is truly puzzling about Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s proposing to
release more than 100 of the worst Palestinian terrorists to have ever murdered
Israelis is that it is impossible to figure out any reason to do
Let’s go very carefully through the arguments and try to find
It is true, of course, that Israel has released prisoners before.
Yet this was under different circumstances.
In other cases, prisoners,
sometimes in very large numbers, were released in exchange for Israeli
This could be controversial, but also one could make a case for
it. The prisoners might have been convicted on less serious charges, or they
might have been near the end of their imprisonment.
There was nobility in
the high value placed on an Israeli life, in doing everything possible to rescue
a kidnapped soldier.
A second rationale for such releases is if there is
the calculation of a diplomatic win. Perhaps the release of some prisoners would
help bring about a ceasefire or get serious negotiations going – when we thought
that these were possible – or achieve valuable gains or material benefits for
But the curiosity here is why Israel is releasing the worst
terrorists for no gain, not even good publicity? Surely it isn’t to win domestic
popularity, because Israelis hate this decision.
Nor is it related to the
previous Netanyahu strategy which has been to humor Obama, make minimal and
low-cost concessions, and let the PA demonstrate that it doesn’t want to make
Nor will it get Israel any good PR in Europe or America. On the
contrary, the mass media will not tell the readers and viewers the extent of the
crimes perpetrated by these terrorists, or generate sympathy for the real
No. If anything, the coverage will emphasize sympathy for the
terrorists’ families and give the impression that they were political prisoners
arrested for no good reason by cruel “occupation” authorities.
Is the PA
offering something in exchange? No.
There is no hint at all that the PA
will suspend its demand that all Palestinians be allowed to live in Israel (and
subvert it); or recognize Israel as a Jewish state; or that the pre-1967 lines
will be altered in Israel’s favor? All that is simply not going to
Any concessions will be pocketed and then the PA will demand
more. We know that. The strategy of the unilateral creation of Palestine,
without any deal at all, will continue.
Okay, so perhaps some big prize
will be offered by the United States? Like what? In Egypt and Syria the US
supports the Muslim Brotherhood against Israel’s interests. In Turkey, US
President Barack Obama loves an anti-Israel Turkish government.
some secret American promise? But what is an Obama promise worth? Obama has gone
back on a pledge to support a frontier change to allow Israel to include large
settlement blocs. And then there was Turkey. President Obama personally mediated
a deal with Turkey in which Israel made concessions, then did nothing when
Turkey ignored all the provisions and openly broke the agreement.
fact, remember how Obama asked Israel for a construction freeze on settlements,
and then gave it no credit when it acquiesced twice! Perhaps the secret promise
pertains to Iran and its nuclear weapons drive. But what would that be? Is the
Obama administration going to attack Iran or cooperate with Israel in doing so?
Of course not.
And even if such a promise was made, would anyone believe
it? Merely to continue the policies of past presidencies toward Israel would not
be sufficient for continued concessions in exchange for nothing new.
is there a credible threat against Israel, that Obama would do something
terrible or apply pressure if he didn’t get his way? Yet, as the saying goes in
Hebrew, yesh gvul (“there’s a limit”).
As for the nominal reason for the
Netanyahu policy, the prime minister has said that perhaps there is some real
chance for peace this time, although he doesn’t believe it.
What is the
real effect of this policy?
• To undermine Israel’s credibility.
increase the risk of terrorism against Israeli citizens.
• To build
confidence in Palestinian intransigence.
• To encourage Palestinians to
commit terrorism, believing they will not pay for it, or be charged a reduced
• To underline the PA’s belief that it can get something for
• To persuade Europeans and Americans that they can endlessly
pressure Israelis into concessions.
Would America release al-Qaida
terrorists held in Guantanamo Bay prison in the belief that this would lead them
to make peace? There is simply no proper motive for following such a terrible
policy.The author is the director of the Global Research in
International Affairs (GLORIA) Center www.gloria-center.org
The Rubin Report