Israel was coerced, pressured and hornswoggled into releasing one-hundred-four terrorist prisoners, most of whom were serving life sentences for multiple murders of Israelis either through their direct actions or as planners who sent numerous homicide-bombers into Israeli central bus stations, shops, malls, restaurants, wedding ceremonies, Bar Mitzvahs, Passover Seders and other places where large numbers could be murdered, simply as a bribe to get Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority to agree to sit and talk for nine months without any guarantee of progress towards making an actual peace agreement. Even from the beginning of this round of the peace process there were comments from numerous Palestinian Authority spokespersons even including the actual negotiators who openly stated that they were not negotiating to reach any agreement but were only pretending to actually negotiate in order to attain the freedom for as many terrorists as possible before they would walk away from the table. The other running commentary came mostly from the mouth of Mahmoud Abbas also from the very beginning of the talks demanding that the Israelis also be forced to implement a building freeze despite turning down that choice in favor of the terror prisoners release over any other concessions from Israel. What is of further note is that this time, just as in every previous situation when the United States, the European Union, the United Nations or any other source decided to sponsor another round of peace talks, the only concessions demanded were forced from the Israelis and the Palestinians refused to agree to negotiations unless Israel met certain preconditions. Of real interest is that the Palestinians have never offered or been forced to make a single concession since the initial implementation of the Oslo Accords. The Palestinian Authority have yet to even meet the main demand they agreed to in the original agreement where they had promised to alter their charter by removing the demand to destroy Israel as the state for the Jewish People. To their credit, the Palestinian Authority did agree to appoint a committee to rewrite that section of their charter when the United States sent some monitors to assure that the agreement was fulfilled. They never did form that committee but the American observers left satisfied the demands to change certain parts of their charter would be met. So much for trust but verify. So, where do the current talks sit, one might ask.
The release of the one-hundred-four terrorist prisoners was arranged to be accomplished in four stages throughout the negotiations. Israel has released three sets with the last group to be released near the end of March. Each release has spawned great celebrations by the Palestinian Authority giving the released terrorists a heroes greeting. As a bonus for their terrorist acts the released terrorists were granted positions within the Palestinian Authority where those who committed the greater acts of terror receiving sentences over twenty years being rewarded with higher paying positions while all others receive a lesser amount. Some of the reports have put the salaries as high as $4,000 per month, a salary equal to a rank of general in the Palestinian Security Forces. The salaries are in addition to bonuses given to the released terrorists with some receiving as much as $50,000 while one terrorist, Issa Abed Raboo, will be receiving $60,000 as his bonus. Who says terrorism does not pay? These salaries are even higher than the amounts paid to the terrorists’ families and the terrorists while they were held in Israel. The Palestinian Authority is claimed to be paying as much as $46,000,000 in terrorist salaries to those in Israeli prisons this year alone.
For the past six weeks barely a day goes by without Mahmoud Abbas, one of the Palestinian negotiators or high level Palestinian Authority spokesperson demanding that the Palestinians walk away from the table as soon as Israel releases the final set of terrorists. Some even demand they end their ruse now and stop negotiations immediately. Such calls are always met with a reassuring and calm Abbas claiming the moderate mantle promising that the Palestinians will stay the course until every Palestinian terrorist has been released. Abbas freely states regularly that he is only waiting for the last group to be released unless the United States can force Israel to agree to release more terrorist prisoners including Marwan Barghouti and also implement a building freeze throughout Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, then he claims he will extend the negotiations for as long as the release of the additional terrorist prisoners are being freed. The Palestinians Authority has released numerous statements for their public to consume claiming that they have made a complete mockery and collapsed the idea of Israel imposing a life sentence for murdering Jews by forcing the terrorist releases. All of this does beg the question as to why would the Israelis release the last set of terrorist prisoners knowing that doing so will only result in the Palestinians walking out of the negotiations and there is no possibility of any gains to be made towards a real peace? The sole reason that might make sense is that should Israel withhold the final release, then the Palestinian Authority could leave the negotiations claiming that Israel refuses to take the necessary steps to reach a peace agreement. But is that reason enough?
Well, that is where everything really enters the theater of the absurd. As was hotly argued were comments, more like threats, made by United States Secretary of State Kerry aimed at Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israelis stating, “Failure of the talks will increase Israel’s isolation in the world. The alternative to getting back to the talks is a potential of chaos. I mean, does Israel want a third intifada?” Just this week a European Union delegation urged Israel to release the long term terror prisoners as doing so was essential to continuing the peace process and moving it forward. The head of the European Union delegation Emer Costello was quoted demanding, “We believe that the release of prisoners… is central to the peace process.” He also stated, “I think there is an acceptance on both sides, even with the members of the Knesset that we met (knew the) importance of the prisoner issue.” I would love to have the list of the Ministers of the Knesset with which the European Union met. I have a pretty good idea that almost none were from Likud, Jewish Home or even Tzipi Livni herself as she was quoted from her Facebook page clarifying that, “”In order to advance serious negotiations, we will all need to take decisions and prove we are determined to reach an agreement and real peace. That burden of proof is also on the Palestinians’ shoulders. Accordingly, we will examine the issue of the prisoners, meaning that the key to the cells of the Palestinian prisoners is also to be found in the hands of Abu Mazen (Abbas) and the decisions he will take in the coming days.” So, where does that leave Israel going forward?
The Israeli leadership will need to weigh what the repercussions would be if they refused to release the rest of the terror prisoners without an actual agreement signed and completed with the Palestinian Authority. Prime Minister Netanyahu might add to the offer the release of Marwan Barghouti and a number of other highly prized terrorist masters should an actual and lasting peace with Israel recognized in the agreement as the home for the Jewish People and an end to the claims of Palestinian refugees’ “right of return.” The result of such actions is easily predicted. Mahmoud Abbas backed by a chorus of other Palestinian Authority spokespeople and accompaniment by the United Nations, European Union, various European governments’ heads of state, Secretary of State Kerry and President Obama at a minimum all condemning Israel and expressing their full understanding for the implementation of a third intifada of terror and murder against Israel and demanding that all civilized nations place sanction on Israel immediately. Where this becomes completely ridiculous is that even should Israel release the last group of terrorists and the Palestinian Authority walk away from the talks the very next morning, within a week, ten days at most, I can predict what the world’s news reports and the entire gauntlet of above noted leaders will all be declaring; Israel destroyed any possibility for peace in the Middle East as they refused to release the remaining terrorists they have been holding in their prisons and insist on continuing to build more housing for Jews in the occupied territories. It is necessary that the world’s leaders take measures to implement policies that display their dissatisfaction and anger over Israeli reluctance to make the necessary compromises for peace. Mahmoud Abbas offers the best possibility for peace and the time is right that peace could be accomplished if only Israel would take the necessary steps. Abbas will meanwhile be complaining about how he was ready and willing to continue the negotiations if only Israel would be reasonable and meet their obligations for peace.
The claim we have heard from President Obama is that everybody knows what the formula is for peace and that is the 1967 Lines (actually the 1949 Armistice Lines) with mutually agreed land swaps (if permitted by the Palestinians) with the Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem (cutting the Israelis and all Jews from accessing the Kotel (Western Wall) and Temple Mount (the holiest place on Earth for Jews) and all of the Old City (the historical capital since King David declared Jerusalem as his capital in the tenth century BCE) and some consideration for the Palestinian refugees. Nobody seems to have any difficulty with this solution and think it reasonable. All one need do is remember back to just after the Six Day War when Israel has routed three Arab Armies which had massed on her border and waged war forcing Israel into a defensive war. The actual start to the war was forced by both Egyptian and Syrian troops massed on Israel’s northern and southern borders and all shipping through the Red Sea blockaded by Egypt which was casus belli thus the actual start to the state of war. Within hours of hostilities starting between Syria and Egypt against Israel and upon hearing the Egyptian and Syrian reports of their great and glorious ongoing victory and ignoring pleadings from Israel not to believe the lies, Jordan chose not to believe the Israelis and joined in what they expected would be the destruction of Israel. History recorded a nearly unimaginable victory with Israel routing the Egyptian armies, pushing back the Syrian armies and defeating the Jordanian army. Israel, when hostilities stopped at the insistence of the United Nations, Russia, United States, much of Europe and numerous Arab nations (funny how whenever Israel’s enemies are gaining on the field of battle there is silence but if Israel has the advantage the world screams STOP!) Israel held the Golan Heights, the Sinai Peninsula, Judea, Samaria, and all of Jerusalem (the West Bank). The agreement hammered out was United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 (S/RES/ 242) passed on November 22, 1967 was very carefully crafted with great pains to use exact wording such that Israel was to return some, but not necessarily all or even near to all) the gained territories from her defensive war that had been imposed upon Israel. Technically, under International Law, since Israel was the victim of three aggressor nations, Israel did have the right to keep every inch of the lands she had gained. Of course, as has been proven repeatedly, when it comes to Israel the laws, international and otherwise, seem to never quite apply as they would with any other nation. Still, Israel was required to return parts of the land and retain those lands Israel determined were required to provide for safe and secure borders. Most of the world at that time presumed that Israel would likely return most of the Sinai Peninsula and retain the Golan Heights, Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and Gaza. So, what exactly was that solution that everybody knows is the necessary result of the negotiation between the Palestinians and Israel? When the United Nations passed their resolution there was no mention or even the inkling of an idea of a Palestinian people, let alone a nation of Palestine, there was Egypt, Syria and Jordan. Sure, there was the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) which was formed in 1964, three full years before there was any “occupied lands”; I prefer, like many, to call them disputed lands. What was the purpose of the PLO? Their charter called for the eradication of Israel and the liberation of all the lands from the Jordanian border to the Mediterranean Sea, and that Jordanian border included half of Jerusalem and all of Judea and Samaria (West Bank). The PLO, and thus the so-called Palestinians, made absolutely no claims on Judea, Samaria or East Jerusalem and had stated that once they had liberated all of Israel they planned on joining it to Jordan, the actual and original Palestinian State. My how the world has twisted and contorted everything in the years since November 22, 1967. Those were simpler times when people spoke of such things as right and wrong and sometimes I wonder, when did everything run off the rails and become so twisted and the values we held disappear without even a trace of what we once held so dearly.