Well, they’re at it again.
All of the 26 prisoners on the [Israel Prison Service] list were either convicted of murder or attempted murder. Among the most notable cases is Damouni Saad Mohammed Ahmed, who was convicted of involvement in the brutal lynch of IDF reservist Amnon Pomerantz in the Gaza Strip in 1990.
Another Palestinian set to be freed is Massoud Issa Rajib Amer, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who in 1993 was convicted of brutally hacking to death Ian Feinberg, a young lawyer who spent time in Gaza cultivating ties to the local Palestinian community while trying to promote economic projects. Amer was also convicted of killing three Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel.
Israel will also release Tukeman Yusef Suleiman Mahmed, Abu Hanana Zakariya Udia Usama, and Abdel-Aziz Said Kassam Ahmed, three men involved in the 1992 shooting death of Moshe Biton. Biton was shot and killed after entering a convenience store, and his wife was shot after trying to tend to him.
This is the second group of mostly murderers released as part of an agreement that brought Palestinian Authority (PA) negotiators to the table.
Someone recently wrote that “no other country in the world lets murderers go free.” I don’t know how to verify that, but surely no other country would let them go free for less than nothing, which is what Israel has done in this latest deal.
What exactly did Israel get in return for causing immense pain to the family members of victims, making a joke of its justice system and risking the return of these vicious killers to ‘active duty’ as terrorists? Let’s look at the PA’s position in the recent talks:
The Palestinian Authority demands that any land swap with Israel as part of a peace deal not exceed 1.9 percent of the West Bank, less than half of the land necessary to incorporate the lion’s share of settlers, according to details leaked to Channel 2 by a disgruntled Palestinian official on Sunday.
According to the report, the Palestinians are also insisting that they gain control over water, and control at their sides of the Dead Sea and border crossings; that a Palestinian state be able to sign agreements with other states without Israeli intervention; that Israel release all Palestinian prisoners it holds; and that all Palestinian refugees and their descendants be granted the right to choose to live in Israel or the Palestinian territories as part of a final agreement.
To be polite, this is a non-starter. To be impolite, it is a recipe for the end of the Jewish state. Can you imagine ‘Palestine’ inviting Iran to build a base in its territory? Can you imagine flooding Israel with millions of descendants of Arab refugees?
The PA is intransigent because officials do not want to reach an agreement. They know that a high-priority goal of US policy is to get Israel out of the territories, and that the administration in Washington is not sympathetic to Israeli concerns. They know that this leads to continued pressure on Israel to make concessions, like the prisoner release.
Their position gains them points with their constituency — polls have consistently showed that Palestinian Arabs overwhelmingly favor a hard line against Israel — and gets them concessions. By sticking to their maximal demands, they establish a baseline for future ‘peace’ proposals. They employ what I’ve called ‘the divorce court fallacy’ (if one party says X and the other Y, then the truth must be halfway in between) to drive the US closer to their position.
Neither Israel nor the PA expects these talks to lead to a peace agreement. They do produce benefits for the PA, but what do they do for Israel? Only one thing, which is to get Barack Obama off its back. Maybe.