'We have to pay a price in favor of chance to move peace process forward.' Abbas and Kerry
Photo: Shalom Bar Tal
Israel would rather engage in negotiations without being forced to make any concessions. The most convenient thing would be not to release any of the Palestinian prisoners sitting in Israeli jails. Slightly less convenient, but still tolerable, would be to free prisoners who are about to be released in any case because it's their time to go.
The third place in the list of convenience belongs to "light" prisoners – stone throwers who did not injure anyone, for example. And lastly, it would be very inconvenient to release prisoners responsible for murdering Israelis; like those on the list sent by Abbas.
That's the truth, and it's understandable and humane, but that's just the thing – negotiations with the Palestinians are clearly an inconvenient thing. And so is everything related to with these negotiations, what precedes them, what happens in their midst and what comes when they end. Because such negotiations require making compromises, require giving up, require bidding farewell not only to security prisoners with blood on their hands who were tried and rightfully sent to prison, not only to parts of the land, but also to a worldview.
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The list the Palestinians submitted is not a simple one. It includes, for example, Karim Younis, an Israeli Arab who murdered soldier Avraham Bormberg 32 years ago; Walid Daka, who was convicted of murdering soldier Moshe Tamam; and others.
But as I said, that's part of the price we have to pay in favor of the chance to move the process forward. We can see this list – as the prime minister's associates claim – as a trick aimed at holding up the peace process, but we can also see the release of prisoners as an initial contribution to a spirit of reconciliation. After all, Israel has already been in this place, including in the Shalit deal, and has already budged from its refusal to release murderers with blood on their hands.
So Knesset Member Slomiansky thinks that Abbas needs negotiations more than we do? His calculations are unclear to me, but it is clear that such negotiations, even if they take a very long time, carry a chance for better days in our region. Perhaps not tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, but we're not going anywhere, and it's worth the effort.