Israelis protesting Palestinian prisoner release.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The fundamental goal of the Palestinian Authority is no different than that of Hamas: the destruction of the State of Israel. How can peace be reached with people who have such a goal? Truth be told, the Kerry initiative for new talks began with an ominous development.
Israel agreed to release over 100 murderers – some notorious mass murderers – a number of whom murdered American citizens as well as Israelis. Their crimes have received much focus, a fact not to be minimized, and one that carries potential to upset the mindset of Americans who discovered first-hand more than a decade ago the consequences of terror.
To a great extent what is worse than the simple release of terrorists who have served some time is the unrepentant boasts of these murderers, who will be celebrated and honored as heroes when they are released.
This is the core of the problem. How can you make peace with people who educate their children to follow in the footsteps of those who massacre women and children? The problem is clear, but what can be done in the future? Israel refuses to enact the death penalty for such terrorists, despite having a law for “crimes against humanity,” exercised only once – with Adolph Eichmann.
Therefore, the obvious: the Arabs will constantly push to kidnap Israelis to exchange for the release of such murderous terrorists, or make them a major bargaining point in negotiations with Israel. By releasing the terrorists, the message to such murderers is clear. No matter how heinous your crime, one day you will be free, as heroes, as long as you are not killed while murdering your target – an option they are convinced is nonetheless rewarded in heaven.
Going forward, there is only one solution that can easily be adopted and can, at least partially, solve the problem. It is a solution that has been successfully used by other countries: the terrorists who murdered Israelis who have American citizenship, or any Americans visiting Israel, must be extradited to the United States to face US justice, and more than likely spend the rest of their lives in US prisons.
Mexico and Columbia have used this tactic successfully against their drug cartel kingpins.
They do not try to hold the kingpins but rather send them to US jails, obviating the pressure of future terrorist attacks by the cartels to release them. Israel needs to do this with terrorists.
Simply stated, they will not be released by US prisons, they will not be pardoned, nor will they have their prison sentences commuted by US presidents without creating an uproar in the US. Further, the US has the death penalty and these terrorists would risk being executed or subject to life imprisonment if extradited to the US.
There has been a previous initiative in Congress by Congressman Matt Salmon to go after Palestinian Arab terrorists who have murdered Americans. Eventually, a US law was enacted, titled the Kobe Mandel Act, which required that the US Justice Department set up an office to go after these terrorists.
Unfortunately, not one Palestinian Arab terrorist has been brought to US justice under this Act. Congressman Salmon is certain to work to ensure that this will now change.
Israel can no longer withstand world pressure to release these prisoners. But if these terrorists are in US jails then they are no longer on the table for negotiations. The US Congress has already expressed its overwhelming support, calling for these terrorists to face US justice. Israel now needs to take the initiative to transfer such terrorists.
The goal is peace. A real, sustainable peace. Without a system of justice for those who murder there can be no peace.
One of the most fundamental problems since Oslo is that instead of enacting a system of justice for those who murder Israelis, the PA has acted Nazi-like, glorifying those who murder and massacre Jews.
It is time for this to end.
There will never be peace if this folly continues, no matter how many negotiations occur or agreements are signed.The writer is an attorney and president of the National Council of Young Israel.