Here we go again. The next tranche of terrorist murderer releases is just days away.
Most Israelis will pay it no attention. True, polls show that 91% oppose it in principle but it takes more than principles to nudge Israelis off their couches. The price of cottage cheese, for instance, has proven highly effective.
Their apathy will suit prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu just fine. He will be spared the chore of his formulaic, faux–emotional apologies.
After the second tranche, in October 2013, when the public voiced moderate opposition, Netanyahu explained:
The decision to free prisoners is one of the most difficult I made as prime minister. This decision was necessary in our current reality. We have to navigate through a complex international arena full of challenges.
But there has been no protest emanating from Israelis since then. Other than from those pesky bereaved families. Like mine.
We, who are viscerally pained by Netanyahu’s conduct, cannot accept that justice in Israel is now a thing of the past. We do not ignore, forget and move on.
We expect that when a prime minister experiments with a new strategy – which is what Netanyahu has labeled the releases – he will assess its efficacy at some point. A drastic move like this – discarding judicial verdicts in favor of a Prime Minister’s preference – demands that.
In short, the question that begs asking is: “How’s that working for you, Mr. Netanyahu?”
Or, to be more precise: “How’s that working for your people?”
Here is a cost-benefit appraisal of the releases.
Have they appeased Abbas?
The releases has been billed by Netanyahu as “confidence-building gestures” aimed at Abbas and the PA. They were intended to warm their relations with Israel. Instead we have seen Abbas accord gala heroes’ welcomes for the convicted murderers in Ramallah. We have learned that he awards each of those murderers cash gifts starting at $50,000 and plum jobs at the PA. [Source].
We have heard Issa Karake, the PA Minister of Prisoner Affairs, declare:
These prisoners are heroes and fighters who fought so that we could live in dignity…We appreciate [them] and are proud of them.
Have they advanced the negotiations?
The latest reports of the PA’s discontent with Israel’s security demands show that these talks are proving far from successful. Haaretz has warned that
Palestinian negotiators and advocacy teams are already preparing for the ‘day after’ – to lobby the international community for support after the talks fail to bring any tangible results other than the freeing of older prisoners.
Have they won Obama’s support against Iran?
The releases may even have doomed Netanyahu’s campaign to galvanize the West behind his tough stand on Iran. Netanyahu committed a travesty of justice that those states would never in their wildest dreams entertain. World powers would have rallied around a firm Israeli prime minister. But a spineless leader who crosses his very own red line against releasing terrorist murderers demonstrates that all his ultimatums are shams.
Has it endangered Israelis? Do released terrorists return to terror?
Reports abound of terrorism’s resurgence in the West Bank. Much of it is orchestrated by Hamas – until now considered exclusively Gaza-based.
Haaretz’ Amos Harel explains:
Egypt has threatened to crush Hamas if it renews its rocket fire into Israel. Accordingly, the organization is currently doing all it can to rein in the activity of its more extreme armed factions… What is taboo for Hamas in Gaza is not necessarily seen that way with regard to the West Bank. The reestablishment of the terror networks in the West Bank makes it possible to keep the fire of the struggle burning, and at the same time to exact a price from Israel and undermine the competing government of the PA there.
Who is responsible for this enterprise? The very same Hamas terrorists released in the Shalit Deal and “exiled” to Gaza. As Harel writes:
It turns out that exile in Gaza has not persuaded most of them to go into a new line of work. The senior figures among them were coopted into Hamas’ apparatus in the Strip and some have been given key appointments relating to the renewal of the networks in the West Bank.
Our daughter Malki’s murderer is another seasoned Hamas terrorist “exiled” by Netanyahu. The truth is that he returned her to her home and family in Jordan. There, and in other Muslim states she routinely visits, she brazenly incites and instructs budding murderers. She is an expert: 15 innocents perished in one of her bombings. Her speeches appear on YouTube for all – including Netanyahu – to hear.
Bereaved parents grieve until the day they die. Bereaved parents who watch their children’s murderers walk free grieve and rage until the day they die.
But we will protest this upcoming release with no illusions.
Netanyahu, who has refused to meet with, speak to or even write to us, is impervious to reason. He is a junkie of European and American kudos. And for that coveted pat on the back from Kerry, Merkel, Hollande and co., Netanyahu is emasculating our justice system and destroying our democracy.
So brace yourself, nation of Israel. More murderers will be freed next week, come hell or high water – or a third intifada.