Released Terrorists Get the Last Laugh

On Tuesday of next week the government of Israel will, once again, release Palestinian prisoners.

Since the release of the terrorists in the Shalit deal (October 2011), according to the GSS’s assessment, a significant number of those released have returned to terror activities both in Judea and Samaria, as well as the Gaza Strip.

It turns out, for some reason that sitting in an Israeli prison cell does not convince terrorists to abandon their radical Islamic ideologies and to be transformed into peace activists. According to the released terrorist, Iman Alshrauna, who was released in the Shalit deal, he is continuing to act for the liberation of “all West Bank territories, the Temple Mount… and all of Palestine from the river to the sea”, as well as “all Palestinian prisoners imprisoned in Israel”. (Lebanon Almiadin Channel, 27 May 2013)

Notwithstanding the serious harm done to the security of Israeli citizens, the premature release of Palestinian prisoners impairs the separation of powers, a principle that is indispensable to proper democratic governance. The executive branch actually becomes all-powerful when its leaders decide to release prisoners from sentences cast by the judicial branch, based upon laws created by the legislative branch. This is a breech in the democratic protective dike, which must be taken seriously.

Furthermore, an absurd breech of the principle of equality before the law has also been created. Criminals who are driven by “nationalistic” motives enjoy preferable treatment over those driven by other motives, because the latter will never be released in political transactions.

It is Impossible to Legitimize a Corrupt Government

 So the obvious question is, “What have we gained?” What have Israeli citizens received in consideration for sacrificing our security and the proper functioning of our democracy? Some analysts assert that this move is essential in order to build legitimacy for Abu-Mazen before he signs a peace agreement. In other words, without securing some kind of achievement in advance, the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority lacks the mandate to negotiate with Israel in the name of the Palestinian people.

 Will the release of prisoners actually rehabilitate the trust of the Palestinian people in Abu-Mazen and his government? I highly doubt it. Hamas rose to power in the last Palestinian elections, replacing Abu-Mazen’s party, the  PLO, for two reasons: a protest vote and an ideological vote.

 One vote protested the rampant corruption in the PLO government; a government of leaders who enrich themselves personally with the massive international aid flowing into the territories, while the average Palestinian is living in miserable conditions. The EU report, which was published last week, exposes the fact that over the past four years approximately three billion dollars “evaporated” into thin air in the Palestinian Authority. I doubt that the release of prisoners will transform Abu-Mazen into a less corrupt person, or restore the monies stolen from the Palestinian people.

 The ideological vote was placed by people who sincerely believe in the Hamas charter, which calls for the conquest of the whole land of Israel by violent jihad. This is the only legitimate form of “resistance” according to their religious values and world-view. Neither the release of prisoners, nor any other act of Abu-Mazen, will ever induce them to change their minds.

 Thus, we have harmed our own security and undermined our democratic system, with absolutely nothing to show for it in the pursuit of peace with the Palestinians.

 America’s Double Standard

 What deeply troubles me, however, is the fact that the demand to release prisoners comes from no other source than our faithful ally, the government of the United States of America. This is astonishing hypocrisy. According to American law and practice, a state never releases security prisoners, certainly not in the framework of political transactions. To verify this statement, just ask Jonathan Pollard.

 Meanwhile, the released terrorists are laughing all the way to their renewed terror activities.

About the Author
Calev Michael Myers is the Deputy President of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists (IAJLJ) and the President and Executive Chairman of ARISE - Alliance to Reinforce Israel's Security and Economy (ARISE). He is also a Senior Partner at Yehuda Raveh & Co. Law Offices (YR&Co.). The opinions expressed in Calev's blogs may not necessarily reflect the opinions of the IAJLJ, ARISE or YR&Co.