Itongadol.- Four papers discuss the projected release of 104 veteran Palestinian and Israeli Arab terrorists, many of whom have civilian blood on their hands, as part of the effort to restart the diplomatic process:
Summary of editorials from the Hebrew press – July 29th, 2013
Ma\’ariv asserts: "This is a Shylock deal. The Americans, the Arabs and the Europeans are asking the senior Jewish representative, the private and collective Israel: Cut some flesh from your body so that we will know that you are serious." The author cites Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu\’s remark yesterday that "\’Entering the process serves Israel\’s strategic interests.\’ He did not say that peace is a strategic interest, he did not say that an interim agreement is such an interest. \’Strategic interests\’ is a nuclear Iran." The paper concludes: "The more painful this prisoner release deal is to Bibi and to the public, the more Netanyahu will be obligated to insist on his security demands. Regarding Iran, this payment to the Americans must allow legitimacy for military action and international coordination. On the \’peace\’ issue, it allows Israel to give its own views on its security needs. It is hard to believe that Netanyahu is willing to rely on the \’demilitarization\’ of the West Bank. There can be no such thing without permanent Israeli control of the Jordan Valley."
Yediot Aharonot strongly criticizes "Netanyahu\’s willingness to include prisoners who are Israeli citizens," and asserts that "This is a fundamental blow to Israel\’s sovereignty," which lends credence to the claim that Israeli Arabs "are part of the Palestinian nation and that Abu Mazen is their leader. This is the willingness to agree that the Arab citizens of the country will be part of the entity that will be established here in the future, in the framework of a settlement with the Palestinians." The author does not doubt that all prisoners would be freed under a peace agreement but suggests that the Palestinians have given nothing in return for this present gesture. The paper concludes by suggesting that Prime Minister Netanyahu should have – in his open letter to the Israeli people last Saturday night – contrasted the American justice system, in which prisoners like Jonathan Pollard serve their full sentence, with the Israeli system in which "The Palestinian leadership can see to it that terrorists will have their sentences shortened."
Yisrael Hayom notes that the Israeli Arabs slated for release are due to be freed in the final phase of the release and says: "If the negotiations with the Palestinians founder, the sides will not reach the fourth part of the release and they will stay in prison. And if the talks are conducted properly, no government in the world would cause them to be halted merely to keep another 22 terrorist murderers behind bars." The author admits that "Freeing terrorist murderers makes the blood run cold," especially when "A foreign element in Ramallah takes it upon itself to represent murderers who are Israeli Arabs," but asks those who oppose the release whether they would prefer to enter into the negotiations on the basis of the 1967 lines, resume the talks where they left off under Olmert or totally freeze construction in the settlements instead. The paper predicts that one of two things will now happen: Either some sort of peace sett lement will be achieved or "The world will again recognize for a certain time thatit is Ramallah that is frustrating the hoped-for peace, not Jerusalem, and this would also be preferable to the current campaign being waged against Israel in every supermarket in Europe."
The Jerusalem Post believes that “the agreement to release 104 terrorists at such an early stage seems premature,” and asserts: “Israel should not have to foot the bill for the failure of the Palestinian leadership to prepare its people for peace with the Jewish state.”
Haaretz remarks on the restrictions ordered by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on the activity and movement of European diplomats and aid workers in the West Bank and Gaza in response to the new European Union guidelines blocking scientific and financial cooperation with Israeli institutions, and asserts: “Worsening relations with Europe serves no Israeli interest other than to provide an imaginary ego boost.” The editor feels that “Israel should have seen the European sanctions as a kind of wake-up call before it is too late,” and declares: “At the start of yet another hesitant and fragile attempt to open a new chapter in relations with the Palestinians, it would behoove the government to quickly cancel the defense minister’s damaging orders.”
[Amnon Lord, Shimon Shiffer and Dan Margalit wrote today’s articles in Ma\’ariv, Yediot Aharonot and Yisrael Hayom, respectively.]