What Price to Pay for Peace?

— by Steve Sheffey

There is no evidence that the U.S. pressured Israel to release Palestinian prisoners in order to renew the peace talks. Prime Minister Netanyahu made this painful decision because he believes it is in Israel’s best interests to negotiate a two-state solution, even at an unfairly high price.

Virtually all of the 26 prisoners released on August 13 were directly involved in the murders of Israelis. Read about each of them here.

So why did Israel release them? Blogger Matan Lurey summed it up perfectly: The Israel/Palestinian negotiations are about “peace, not justice; pragmatism, not revenge.” The prisoner release was unfair, unjust, and — in the opinion of Prime Minister Netanyahu — in the best interests of Israel.

Perhaps Netanyahu could have brought the Palestinians back to the table with a settlement freeze (which he tried to do before, but it did not work), or an explicit agreement to negotiate based on the 1967 lines, but instead he decided to release the prisoners, which he said was “an incomparably difficult decision, it is painful for the bereaved families and it is painful for me.”

More after the jump.


Feel free to criticize the prisoner release, if you think that you understand Israel’s security needs better than the Prime Minister of Israel.

This is not about justice or fairness. Israel needs a two-state solution to remain Jewish and democratic. We can talk as much as we want about what it says about the Palestinians, that they insisted that these murderers be released as a precondition to negotiations. Israel is negotiating a two-state solution for its own sake, not the Palestinian’s sake. Prime Minister Netanyahu determined that this prisoner release was in the best interests of Israel.

Feel free to criticize the prisoner release, if you think that you understand Israel’s security needs better than the Prime Minister of Israel, but do not insult Netanyahu by suggesting that he would sacrifice Israel’s security in response to U.S. pressure. Do not insult previous Israeli governments, which have released more than 10,000 terrorists. There is no evidence whatsoever that the Obama administration pressured Israel into releasing these prisoners. Those on the extreme right and the extreme left, albeit for very different reasons, refuse to see that Netanyahu is willing and able to make difficult decisions for peace.

This is how the White House defines the American role in the negotiations:

The bottom line is these are direct and bilateral talks between the parties. They are going to have to sort these issues out themselves. They will be meeting with each other, as they did here. They met together with the Americans, they also saw each other separately. But as [Senior State Department Official] said, facilitator means to facilitate, and whatever way we can to be helpful, at whatever level, is what we’re going to do.

And that is exactly what they are doing.

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Reprinted courtesy of Yaakov (Dry Bones) Kirschen www.DryBonesBlog.blogspot.com.

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