The Israeli cabinet voted today to accede to the demands of the Palestinians and free 104 terrorists convicted in Israeli courts as a pre-condition for peace talks with the Palestinians after a bitter debate.
Thirteen ministers voted for the measure, seven against and two abstained. The vote approved the establishment of a committee to manage the phased process of prisoner releases, and approved the resumption of the talks, which are set to restart after a hiatus of almost three years in Washington on Tuesday.
The issue of releasing the prisoners, jailed since before the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, has divided Israelis, many of whom see the freeing of convicted murderers and terrorists as a price too high to pay for a return to the talks. Others regard it as a necessary evil, meeting a Palestinian demand to enable a resumption of negotiations.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that approving the releases was a deeply painful decision, but one that served the wider interests of the state. Underlining the anguish and divisions over the move, two ministers from Netanyahu’s own Likud party voted against it, and two more abstained. [...]
Voting in favor of the 104 releases were Netanyahu, [Moshe] Ya’alon, Gideon Sa’ar, and Yuval Steinitz (all Likud); Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Sofa Landver (Yisrael Beytenu); Yair Lapid, Yael German, Yaakov Peri, and Shai Piron (Yesh Atid); and Livni, and Amir Peretz (Hatnua).
Yisrael Katz and Gilad Erdan (Likud), Naftali Bennett, Uri Ariel and Uri Orbach (Jewish Home), and Uzi Landau and Yair Shamir (Yisrael Beytenu) voted against the measure. The Likud’s Limor Livnat and Silvan Shalom abstained.
Netanyahu said the decision, though tough to make, was needed for the “good of the country.”
“This moment is not easy for me, and it isn’t easy for the government ministers, and is certainly not easy for the bereaved families, whom I deeply understand,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu agreed to push this through in response to pressure from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Over 84% of Israelis opposed the move.
Looking at whom these prisoners are is heart rending when you imagine what the families of their victims must feel.
Agbariya Hassan Muhammed, Agbariya Mustafa Muhammed Yehieh and Jabarin Muhammed Tawfik Suleiman Yusseff are Islamic Jihad members who infiltrated an IDF base and murdered 3 unarmed soldier in 1992.They're serving 3 life terms.
Sarsawi Tsalah Taha Samir was a Fatah commander who ordered a grenade tossed into a crowd of civilians in 1988 and threw Molotov cocktails at several buses, causing a number of injuries, some serious. He's serving 30 years.
Abu Mohammed Yassin is a member of the radical Popular Front For The Liberation of Palestine(PFLP)who was convicted of stabbing two Israeli civilians, purchasing a weapon used to murder another civilian, and the attempted murder of a fourth Israeli civilian. He's serving 28 years.
Dagna Nofel Mahmoud, also from the PFLP planned and carried out the brutal murder of Sarah Sharon in 1993. He's serving a life term.
Sualha Bad Mahmed and Sualha Faza Husseini of Fatah are serving life terms for the stabbing murder of teenager Baruch Heizler, who was sitting next to them on an Egged bus in 199o. They then injured three teenage girls, Malka Betty, Shai Cohen and Avishag Cohen before they were able to be subdued and disarmed. Avishag, if memory serves me was all of ten years old.
Sabbag Ahmed Mahmed of Fatah is serving a life term for brutally torturing and murdering 3 Palestinians in 1990 he suspected of 'collaborating'...
Turkeman Yussef Mahmed,Abu Hanana Usama and Abdel Aziz Mahmed of Fatah are serving life terms for planning and carrying out the ambush of a husband and wife at a small convenience store in 1992. Moishe Biton was shot as he got out of his car and his wife, Mali Biton was murdered when she went to help her husband.
Damouni Saad Ahmed and Nashabat Ahmed of Hamas are serving life terms for the murder of Amnon Pomerantz, an IDF soldier. After disabling his jeep by throwing rocks at him, they let his vehicle on fire while he was still alive.
Ahmed Shahada is serving a life term for luring 13-year-old Oren Baharami to a hidden place, brutally sodomizing him and then inviting an accomplice to take a turn back in 1989. When the child tried to run away,Shahada beat him to death with an iron bar.
I should point out that I didn't cherry pick to find the worst offenders. Any of the killers on the list are there for similar reasons.
Israel has freed murderers before as a 'good will gesture' to the Palestinian Authority. It has never brought any 'goodwill' for the simple reason that a society that makes heroes out of people like this and makes their release a pre-condition for even talking about peace has no intention of making it.
Many of them are still relatively young and capable of killing again, and like almost all of the prisoners Israel has released previously, after their heroes' welcome in Ramallah, they'll get right back into the business of killing Jews.
And by caving in to the Palestinian demand for a pre-condition, it simply sets the stage for more blackmail. The Arab mindset sees what Netanyahu has done as an admission of weakness, and an opening for even more demands.
You also have to wonder at John Kerry's motivations. Is forcing Israel into doing this more important than taking a moral stand against people like this being freed? Certainly not if an actual peace is what's desired.
This will not end well.