We are almost to that day [March 29th, late at night] when either the final batch of pre-Oslo Arab prisoners will be released, or our government will announce that they are not being released…
There is a reasonable chance that the latter situation will prevail. And, in any event, as there is little stomach for this here and no official government commitment to do so, the Israeli Arab terrorists would likely not be among those released.
There was a demonstration outside the prime minister’s residence tonight imploring him not to release terrorists.
Many of the demonstrators were people who had lost family members to terrorists. Among them was Rabbi Yehuda Ben-Yishai, whose daughter, Ruth Fogel, her husband, and three of their children – including their three-month-old baby girl – were massacred by Arab terrorists in Itamar three years ago.
Every terrorist attack is a horror, but this one was particularly horrendous. I could not bring myself to write about this when it happened – it was too fresh, too raw, but I had received information that the baby was not only killed, she was mutilated. Words fly away in the face of this. Yet the world needs to know with what we are dealing.
Said the good rabbi tonight (emphasis added):
“Murderers walk free while the rest of us mourn our loved ones.
“We are certain that anyone with a Jewish heart inside of him will oppose this thing, and we have come to tell the Prime Minister: Do what you know you must do; according to the truth, and according to what the people feel.
“You have the mandate to refuse those who wish to subjugate us. You have the mandate to stand up for the truth and say to those who consider themselves our friends [the US, which is pressuring us to do it] that we will not free murderers.”
Amir Fuchs, in “An Insult to the Justice System,” speaks about “the irreparable damage that such releases, whether they are conducted as part of prisoner release deals or as part of diplomatic negotiations, do to the rule of law in general and to the goals of the criminal justice system in particular.”
Unless there is a prisoner release that conforms to Abbas’s demands (which, indeed, are interminable), he is likely to declare the negotiations failed and take himself to the UN. If this is what does transpire, he will waste no time letting the world know that the problem was Israel – for he was very willing to pursue peace.
Kerry, who was in Italy, cut his visit short in order to hurry to Jordan today for a dinner meeting with Abbas tonight. This was a last minute attempt to salvage the talks, but I just loved the official description – as it provided a bit of unintended humor: The secretary of state, said his spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, was going in order to
“continue to narrow the gaps between the parties.”
Does no one ever advise these people how foolish they look when they make such statements?
While Kerry did meet with King Abdullah of Jordan, there are apparently no plans for him to meet Prime Minister Netanyahu. The two are scheduled to talk by phone and video-conferencing.
As to the meeting with Abbas, nothing came of it – nor should it have been expected that anything would have. Abbas’s position was that he wouldn’t even consider Kerry’s framework proposal until he sees what happens with the prisoner release.
If Abbas was obstinate about not making any concessions before, he is strengthened in that resolve now: The closing statement of the Arab League, which just completed its meetings in Kuwait, included a statement that:
“We express our total rejection of the call to consider Israel as a Jewish state.” (Emphasis added)
On Monday, a new condition was apparently added by the PA officials. At a forum in Jerusalem, Muhammad Al-Madani, chief coordinator with Israeli society for Abbas, declared;
“Israel cannot claim that it aspires to reach peace with its Arab neighbors at a time it continues to suppress its Palestinian citizens and treats them as if they are third- or fourth-class citizens.”
I mention this outrage only because it requires a rebuttal: Legally, all Israeli citizens are treated alike. There are no “third or fourth class” citizens. They, as individual citizens, have equal rights under the law. They receive the same unemployment and other social welfare benefits. have access to the same universities, have the same right to vote and sit in the Knesset, and on, and on.
Abbas, for his part, speaking before the Arab League, revealed that he objects to dividing visiting time and area on the Temple Mount between Jews and Muslims.
This is a paradigm for how the Arabs conduct themselves and it should be noted well by everyone who imagines that rational sharing and compromise with them is possible. They are seeking to co-opt control of the Mount, while our government dallies in asserting our rights there. A situation designed to raise blood pressure.
There have been a spate of suggestions for ways to circumvent the current impasse, none of which will work.
The most dramatic rumor involved the suggestion that the US might, finally, release Pollard in exchange for Israel’s agreement to release the Israeli Arab terrorists. There was an enormous focus on this in the media for a short while. It is unlikely that anyone in the Cabinet would have voted against this, no matter how painful this equation would have been. But Washington has announced that there’s nothing doing. In addition to which, Pollard himself has balked at being used this way.
A handful of left-leaning politicians in Israel suggested to Netanyahu that he freeze building in Judea and Samaria as a substitute for release of prisoners, because the freeze can always be undone in a way that a prisoner releases cannot. But the PA would never relinquish their demand for prisoners, and here in Israel there is a “been there, done that” feeling about the futility of a freeze.
And so it goes…
Speaking in Beit El today, Minister of Interior Gideon Sa’ar (Likud), who is close to the prime minister, said:
“There’s no more room for one-sided concessions. We paid painful prices in the past, and there’s no place today for more withdrawals and more freeze just so that the Palestinians would do us the favor of continuing talks with us, We have reached a point where in order to extend the peace talks, the Palestinians are demanding more and more one-sided concessions.”
I think he reflects a growing weariness in this country with the whole charade. Let’s hope, and pray, he reflects a predominant government position.
The fact of the matter is that this process, whatever one calls it, is not going to lead to anything remotely resembling “peace.” The confrontation might be delayed for some months, or a year, but a confrontation there will finally be. (And it may begin with the Temple Mount.)
Actually, I believe that Obama and Kerry’s “peace initiative” has merely exacerbated tensions.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
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