Amid all the bloodshed in Egypt and Syria at the moment the fact that the Israelis and Palestinians are once again at the negotiating table has received less notice than usual. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. The intense international focus on the dispute seems to me a minor contributing reason why the dispute remains unresolved.
But there is one aspect of the talks which really ought to be highlighted. That is the Palestinian demand that Israel release 104 Palestinian terrorists from prison before talks commence. While agreeing to this precondition, Israel has not asked for – and is not getting – anything in return.
Of course Israel has been here before. Many times. And for all the thousands of Palestinian terrorists released before, Israel has made either no gain or almost no gain. A single soldier returned here, the bodies of a couple there. Even by such precedents this latest handover is tragic. Each previous handover of terrorists has not just failed to benefit Israel, but failed to benefit any genuine Palestinian moderates. On each occasion the return of triumphant terrorists has bolstered the extremists and undermined everyone else.
Here, for instance, is Ahlam Tamimi laughing after her release about the number of Israelis she helped kill in the devastating 2001 Sbarro restaurant bombing.
The same celebration of terrorists as heroes is going on now that the latest tranche of prisoners has been promised.
As some corrective, readers might be interested in this piece by Adi Moses. The victim – at the age of 8 – of a Palestinian terrorist attack, the severely wounded Adi saw her mother burn to death in the attack and her 5 year old brother die of wounds shortly afterwards. The perpetrator of this attack is one of those slated for release. The superb Tom Gross has made Adi Moses’s open letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu (published in Hebrew last week) available in English here. Might I urge people to read it?