Dr. Daniel Pipes Calls Release Of 104 Palestinian Terrorist Murders "Lunacy and immorality...a repugnant action"
August 1, 2013
Thoughts on the Release of 104 Palestinian Murderers
by Daniel Pipes
Israeli leaders have a long history of making lopsided trades with their Arab enemies. These include:
I strenuously opposed these unbalanced exchanges (e.g., the Schalit one), even as I acknowledged the honorable Israeli intent not to abandon soldiers.
But there is nothing redeeming whatsoever in the exchange that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu proposed today, releasing 104 murderers as a good-will gesture to encourage the Palestinian Authority to negotiate. Netanyahu justified this decision on the basis that "sometimes prime ministers are forced to make decisions that go against public opinion - when the issue is important for the country."
This is a specious argument. Much more persuasively, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon argues that this gesture "is a prize for the Palestinians, just for their willingness to sit with us at the negotiating table. This defines future standards of far-reaching concessions by Israel, vis-à-vis ridiculous demands by the other side." Danon rightly calls the release of dozens of terrorists who have the blood of hundreds of Israelis on their hands "lunacy."
Lunacy, but also immorality. The exchange betrays the families of victims and it betrays Israel's allies. It is a repugnant action.
To those who would excuse Netanyahu on the grounds that he feels pressure from the U.S. government, I reply: this a lame excuse, for Israelis can and have often stood up to misguided American leaders; further, it appears to be inaccurate, for Netanyahu has recently suggested that, under the spell of the Ben-Gurion complex, has himself become convinced of the need for a Palestinian state in the West Bank.
The unwarranted release of these killers permanently taint, even curse, the negotiations they enable. (July 27, 2013)
July 28, 2013 update: The Israeli cabinet vote today on the 104 went as follows, to be noted for the record. Those in favor:
July 29, 2013 update: And here's the list of the 104 killers to be released:
July 30, 2013 update: Israel's Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said the decision to release the 104 was made "with a heavy heart": "These are murderers. This is a challenge to justice, to law and to bereaved families, and I hear their voices." But he cited unspecified secret reasons to justify his vote in favor of the release:
Comment: Obviously, I don't know what those strategic considerations might be (an offer of U.S. bunker busters for use against Iranian targets?) but they did not convince the seven cabinet members who voted no. I disbelieve Ya'alon, that some secret justifies this ugly and immoral act.
July 31, 2013 update: Another possible clue for Netanyahu's shameful release of the 104 killers, offered by the often unreliable Barak Ravid of Ha'aretz:
Comments: (1) The U.S. government has often declared Israel to be a Jewish state; in particular, Barack Obama has stated that "Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state." So what exactly is the gain here? (2) That Palestinian "refugees" should go to the West Bank and Gaza rather than to Israel is so basic a requirement of any final status outcome that its articulation now amounts to practically nothing. (3) In short, if Ravid has it right, this letter of assurance amounts to nil.
Aug. 2, 2013 updates: (1) How interesting that the same State Department that pressured Israel to release 104 terrorists has put out a world wide terror alert and temporarily shut down 21 diplomatic missions due to fears of a terrorist attack. Is the place stupid, or what?
(2) Anat Berko, a specialist on Israel security prisoners, offers another implicit reason not to release the 104 at "Israeli Prisons, Hothouses for Breeding Palestinian Terrorists": their long periods in prison make them more dangerous.
Aug. 5, 2013 update: Khaled Abu Toameh makes a number of important points for Gatestone Institute about the Palestinian response to the release of the 104. Quoting him: