|Abbas and Erekat in the PA capital Ramallah, 2012 |
[Image Source: Uri Lenz/Flash 90]
Is the prisoner release an integral aspect of the "peace" discussions? Depends whom you want to believe. The head of the PA's negotiating team Saeeb Erekat said the freeing of the murderers was part of "a clear understanding" with the Israeli side as the Kerry-driven process got underway [see "14-Aug-13: Making 'peace' by celebrating the murders of children and of Holocaust survivors"]. Some days later, his boss, Mahmoud Abbas (elected to a four year term as PA chairman eight years ago) said the opposite ["25-Aug-13: Wake up call for those who thought the terrorists are walking free for peace"]. According to President Abbas, the unwarranted gift of freedom to the exultant life-term prisoners "was unrelated to the launching of the peace talks".
Both Erekat and Abbas have long track records of (picking our words with care) characterizing facts in whatever way serves their perceived interests at that moment. So to gain a sense of what happens next with the remaining three tranches of imprisoned Palestinian Arab terrorists, consider what the Bethlehem-based Palestinian Arab news agency Maan reported yesterday
Minister: Dates set for prisoner release
Published Friday 06/09/2013 (updated) 07/09/2013 20:09 | RAMALLAH (Ma'an) | Minister of detainee affairs Issa Qaraqe on Friday announced the dates for the release of veteran Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails. Israel has agreed to release 104 prisoners, most of who were jailed before the 1993 Oslo peace accords, in four stages. The first batch of 26 prisoners was released on Aug. 14, hours before peace negotiations resumed in Jerusalem. The remaining prisoners will be released on Oct. 29, Dec. 29 and March 28, Qaraqe said at a meeting with prisoners' families. Qaraqe said the release of the prisoners was not related to progress in negotiations... and that no prisoners would be exiled. The minister met with PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat and Palestinian Prisoners Society director Qadura Fares in Ramallah to discuss a strategy to improve prisoners' lives after their release, Qaraqe said. The plan includes demanding that Israel stops arresting Palestinians during negotiations, improves the daily lives of prisoners and allows the return of Palestinian fighters deported in 2002 after Israeli forces laid siege to the Nativity Church in Bethlehem. [Maan News]All in all, an objective observer might assume the process is going reasonably well for the Palestinian Arab side so far. But the PA, which continues daily to incite its population to hatred and acts of murderous hostility against Israelis, is making serious efforts to convey the opposite message. As a Haaretz news report this morning puts it:
When the peace talks were launched, in Washington in late July, both parties promised not to report the contents, or even the dates, of their meetings to the media. It was agreed that only the United States would speak to representatives of the media about the negotiations. The Israeli side has kept its promising, refusing to divulge even the smallest technical details... But over the four-day long weekend several senior Palestinian figures gave media interviews, some anonymously and others on the record and for attribution. They all carried the same message – the negotiations are not progressing. The Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee, Yasser Abed Rabbo, in an interview to the Voice of Palestine on Wednesday, said "until now there has been no progress" and that without American pressure on Israel no breakthrough will be achieved. Senior Fatah official Nabil Sha’ath told the Palestinian news agency Ma’an, similarly, that there has been no progress in the talks, adding that for the past six weeks Israel has been presenting the issues it wants to discuss... Another Palestinian official who asked not to be identified told the Chinese news agency Xinhua on Wednesday that Israel insists on only discussing security issues... An Israeli official told Haaretz that the leaks, especially the one about the Israeli proposal to set up a Palestinian state within temporary borders, were incorrect. "The Palestinian side not only leaks, but leaks wrong," he said. "It's a regular pattern of the Palestinians ahead of international gatherings – in this case Kerry's meetings with the European and Arab League foreign ministers. They leak that there's no progress in order to increase international pressure on Israel."Amidst the allegations and counter-allegations, what remains certain is that unrepentant terrorists are being freed by a government (ours) that appears to take a multitude of issues into account, while downplaying the very negative impact on fundamental notions of justice, and on the lives of the victims.
The leaks from the Palestinian side, although exaggerated and partly false, reflect growing frustration in Ramallah over the lack of progress in the talks. The Palestinians are accusing Israel of foot-dragging and of trying to play for time without presenting their positions. After six rounds of talks neither side can show the slightest progress.[Haaretz: "Israel lodges complaint with Washington over alleged Palestinian peace talk leaks"]
Here's an update for readers wondering whether the US government has managed yet to make up its mind about whether these brutal killers of children and of their own unarmed neighbors belong to the good guys or the bad guys. [For background, see: "14-Aug-13: Are the Palestinian Arab murderers who are being released at this moment, freedom fighters or terrorists? Let's check with the State Department"] Sorry to say that despite our repeated messages to State Dept representatives, as of Sunday morning we are still waiting for an answer.