Are we really saving lives by keeping Palestinians in jail - or are we in fact creating a rippling effect of hatred amongst their families and friends?
By ROBI DAMELIN
What price would I pay to bring my son back, you ask? Everything in my possession, if only for one more hug or smile. You who lightly state that those prisoners with blood on their hands should not be released, I ask you to put yourself in the shoes of the families of the kidnapped soldiers and then test your resolve.
Are we really saving lives by keeping Palestinians in jail - some for more than 30 years - or are we in fact creating a rippling effect of hatred amongst their families and friends, a hatred so strong and fierce it gives vent to more violence and bloodshed?
Losing my beloved David [who was killed with nine other soldiers by a sniper at a roadblock north of Ofra in March 2002] did not awaken in me vengeance and hatred. Instead, the only goal in my heart and mind was to prevent other families, both Israeli and Palestinian, from experiencing the dreadful pain I felt, and to stop the cycle of violence by looking for a path toward reconciliation.
Perhaps we can learn from the Irish and understand that if we do not free political prisoners, our conflict will not be resolved peacefully in the near future. Those prisoners in Ireland with "blood on their hands" became some of the most important peacemakers of their time.
The release of politically motivated prisoners is crucial to the peace process. The two are inextricably linked.
Inaction on prison issues and especially on the release of prisoners erodes confidence in the peace process. Confidence building measures are needed to create a climate for agreement on an overall political settlement.
The release of prisoners sentenced as a result of the conflict cannot be divorced from the peace process.
The writer is a member of Parents Circle-Families Forum: Bereaved Israeli and Palestinian Families Supporting Peace, Reconciliation and Tolerance.
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