Last week’s vote by Israel’s Cabinet to approve the release of 104 Palestinian
terrorists with blood on their hands may have been the right move in the context
of the restarted peace talks, but definitely came at the wrong time.
businessperson I enter into negotiations with prospective clients all the time
in an effort to craft an agreement that addresses both the client’s need to have
work done to his/her satisfaction and our need to be properly
But we never enter into a negotiation by saying to the other
party, “Don’t worry, whatever we agree upon, at the end of the day we will give
you an additional 10 percent off the final price.”
That would be a stupid
and irresponsible tactic that simply sets the wrong tone for the negotiation
from the start. And yet, this is exactly what Israel is asked to do time and
time again and, sadly, agrees to time and time again.
The demand by the
Palestinians that we release long-held prisoners is part of a long list of
demands that are made every time we speak about returning to the negotiating
table. These also include negotiations based on the 1967 borders, a cessation of
building in communities over the Green Line, as well as a relaxation of
checkpoints which we operate in the interests of our own security but which they
see as blocking their free movement. But why do we need to continue to agree to
these demands as a precondition to negotiation? It just does not make
What we could have done, and which would have been more palatable
to the great bulk of us who want to believe in peace but are justifiably wary of
the longterm intentions of the other side, is to agree to the release in
principle, but with implementation dependent on the conclusion of an
We understand the demand and clearly are willing to release
these 104 people in the framework of some peace agreement and a cessation of the
conflict, but not as a goodwill gesture before the talks even begin. We have
already made enough goodwill gestures that have gotten us nowhere.
some will say, well, we had no choice because the pressure from the US was too
intense and in the face of growing isolation from the EU we had to do
Yet, those same elements that pressure us exert no pressure on the
Witness the statement made by Palestinian Authority President
Mahmoud Abbas in a recent briefing to Egyptian journalists in Cairo: “In a final
solution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli – civilian or
soldier – on our lands.” So much for a quid pro quo in response to the vote of
Israel’s Cabinet to authorize the release of those 104 prisoners.
all too well, as does Abbas (whose doctoral dissertation was a treatise on
Holocaust denial) what the words “final solution” conveys and we dare not be
lulled into a false sense of security once again.
Israel’s Cabinet, led
by our prime minister, made a tactical error in agreeing to the release in
advance of the talks. The fact that our most important ally in the world was
clearly the catalyst should give us all cause for concern.
Frohlinger, of Negotiating Women Inc., often remarks: “Don’t bargain yourself
down before you get to the table.” Too bad our leadership has not learned that
The author is president of Atid EDI Ltd., an economic
development consulting firm, and a past national president of AACI.