The Region: Why release 100 murderous terrorists?

Would America release al-Qaida terrorists held in Guantanamo Bay prison in the belief that this would lead them to make peace?

Abbas greets Palestinian prisoners 521 (photo credit: REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini)
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 so.
Let’s go very carefully through the arguments and try to find one.
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 soldiers.
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 the West.
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 peace.
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 victims.
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 happen.
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.
Is there 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.
In 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.
Or 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.
• To 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 price.
• To underline the PA’s belief that it can get something for nothing.
• 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 The Rubin Report blog: