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Low turnout for Palestinian prisoner release as negotiations slump

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(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger) 

In a scaled back ceremony early Tuesday morning 18 Palestinians returned to the West Back in the third round of prisoners released by Israel during the Kerry-backed direct negotiations. The group, all pre-Oslo prisoners who were sentenced to 19 to 28 years, were transferred to Ofer military prison, and then entered the West Bank through the Beituna checkpoint around 2:30a.m., before arriving at the Palestinian Authority headquarters outside of Ramallah. While at the checkpoint, a clash erupted between onlookers and the Israeli military, with tear gas fired into the crowd of prisoner supporters.

In total 26 prisoners were released last night, with three returning to the Gaza Strip and five taken to East Jerusalem.

At the Muqataa, a short walk from downtown Ramallah, families of the released prisoners gathered despite the winter weather. Reflecting the malaise towards reaching a deal between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, less than half the number of supporters as the last two releases assembled for last night’s address, which was held in smaller plaza than the previous prisoner releases. Around one thousand waited hours until the men appeared with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas just after 3a.m. The depression didn’t keep families from carrying released prisoners on their shoulders through the crowds, though. But there was noticeably less cheerleading, less dancing, and less impromptu chanting of national slogans.

Fatah flags were distributed by the Palestinian Authority.

(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

“This is a Palestinian area,” said Abbas in regards to the Jordan Valley in his speech, continuing, “It’s a red line nobody can cross.” He spoke from a modest podium decorated by a Palestinian flag held in place by yellow masking tape. The Jordan Valley is of immediate concern for the Palestinian negotiating team because over the weekend an Israeli legislative committee formally discussed annexing the eastern agricultural lowland bordering Jordan (just under a quarter of the total West Bank).

Already Israel controls 90% of the Jordan Valley. It was demarcated as “Area C in the Oslo peace accords, transferring full security control to Israel. The Jordan Valley has long been of particular interest to leaders of the Jewish state. After it was placed under military occupation in 1969 chief army architect responsible for shaping rivaling Zionist militias into the Israeli Defense Forces, Yigal Allon wrote that Israel should engage in negotiations, but hold out on reaching an agreement until it can create enough “facts on the ground” to secure the eastern border:

[I]t is Israel’s right, and indeed her duty, to establish settlements and security positions in border areas of settlement importance, making her own decisions about the question of political policy involved. Such accomplished facts, besides their primary security value, will also make their contribution to the political struggle for permanent political borders, by showing the Arab States that in this sphere, as in others, time is not necessarily on their side.[1]


(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

Last spring Netanyahu announced 104 Palestinian prisoners serving long-sentences would be released in four stages over the course of negotiations with Palestinian leaders. The number has since been bumped to 109 prisoners expected to be freed. The fourth and final group of prisoners will be let out before April. Months ago these commuted sentences were hailed as a goodwill gesture by Israel after finally agreeing to discuss the big issues: borders, refugees, Jerusalem and water. But now it seems they again will be tabled for establishing a “framework” of what will be discussed in the discussions, and Palestinian statehood has been officially put on hold in this round of talks.

Up until last night each prisoner release has coincided with an Israeli announcement to bolster settlement growth, particularly in East Jerusalem. Still, suffice to say that gearing up a bill to incorporate the West Bank’s bread belt into Israel is a more catastrophic blow to Palestinian sovereignty than building more high-rise, modernist apartments in suburbs over the Green Line and outside of the country’s internationally recognized borders. It would seem then that Allon’s strategy of settlement growth as a means of annexing the Jordan Valley has finally arrived. In return, the Palestinians will get 109 prisoners freed in a midnight celebration.

(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

[1] Allon, Yigal, “Since June 1967,” The Making of Israel’s Army. (Great Britan: Vallentine, Mitchell & Co. Ltd., 1970), 106.

Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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55 Responses

  1. Shuki on December 31, 2013, 11:13 am

    Flag waving and dancing in the street to celebrate the release of murderers and terrorists. And it is the Jews fault that there is not piece in the region? Give me a break… what a disgusting display of the true nature of the Palestinian leadership.

    • Woody Tanaka on December 31, 2013, 11:51 am

      “Flag waving and dancing in the street to celebrate the release of murderers and terrorists.”

      Until such time as they are convicted by legitimate courts (trial by the zionist entity is sufficient, in and of itself, to provide reasonable doubt of guilt), they are simply persons held by an oppressive occupation force.

      “And it is the Jews fault that there is not piece in the region?”

      Not “Jews,” “israelis.”

      And we know that the israelis want a piece — a piece of Palestine, a piece of Syria, a piece of Lebanon, a piece of Jordan, etc., etc., etc.

      And yes, the lack of peace in the region is the fault of the israelis. If they wanted peace, they would accept the Arab Peace Plan, which promises the peace they claim they want, but it would require them to get their jack boots off the necks of the Palestinians, and what would zionism be, if there were no one for the zionists to abuse?? So they reject peace.

      • NickJOCW on January 1, 2014, 4:52 pm

        Woody et al Please understand that Shuki is simply using the comments to divert outrage away from the issue. He/She should not be allowed to get away with so obvious a sleight of pen. I know it’s a challenge but why not ignore such provocative contributions, let them stand naked and ignored in their absurdity. They are not worthy of responses which in a perverse way serve to dignify them.

    • MRW on December 31, 2013, 12:12 pm

      They’re freedom fighters.

      • mondonut on December 31, 2013, 12:58 pm

        MRW says: They’re freedom fighters.
        Sure they are.

        Abu Muhsan Khaled Ibrahim Jamal was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Shlomo Yehia in 1991.

        Shlomo Yehia was born in 1915 in Yemen and immigrated to Israel in Operation Magic Carpet. He settled in Moshav Kadima where he worked as a gardener even after reaching retirement age. On September 26th 1991 he went out to work as usual and was stabbed to death in a public park. Shlomo was 76 years old at the time of his death and was survived by his wife and six children.

      • Woody Tanaka on December 31, 2013, 1:38 pm

        “Abu Muhsan Khaled Ibrahim Jamal was sentenced to life imprisonment…”

        Until they are tried by a legitimate court (a zionist police, prosecution and judiciary being so inherently and inextricably biased, to the point of constituting, without more, reasonable doubt of guilt) then they are nothing but detainees who should be considered innocent.

    • Talkback on December 31, 2013, 1:56 pm

      Flag waving and dancing in the street to celebrate the release of murderers and terrorists. And it is the Jews fault that there is not piece in the region? Give me a break… what a disgusting display of the true nature of the Palestinian leadership.

      Says the supporter of a state which was established and is still mantained by terrorism and expulsion and whose terrorists like Shamir and Begin became celebrated Prime ministers and popular street names.

      • Kathleen on January 2, 2014, 4:44 pm

        a real case of the pot calling the kettle black

    • Bumblebye on December 31, 2013, 2:47 pm

      Remind us how long various Israeli murderers have spent behind bars for killing Palestinians? Usually a small fraction of the time, if they’re not left free in the first place, with cases against them dismissed for ‘lack’ (ie non collection) of evidence.

      • tree on December 31, 2013, 6:08 pm

        If I could expand on Bumblebye’s point a bit here, I have to say that all this wailing and gnashing of teeth over the release of convicted murderer is quite hypocritical of Zionists and Israelis. And its also very disingenous of the Israeli government to act as if it is some great sacrifice for “peace”, or “piece” as shuki said.

        Israel domestic law, a far fairer set of legal principles than the arbitrary and draconian Israeli military law under which the West Bank Palestinians suffer, does not have capital punishment for the crime of murder. Life sentences are given in Israeli civilian law but those sentences are usually commuted to 30 year sentences, with the possibility for parole after 20 years, and in some cases after 15 years. Convicted murders are let free every day in Israel after serving 20 years in jail. No one complains that murderers are being set free, or that those who greet the parolees are bloodthirsty savages. Non-citizen Palestinians do not get parole. They must wait for a prisoner exchange in order to be released and so far every Palestinians who was released after being convicted of murder has been in Israeli jail for at least 20 years. So Israel, for once, is treating some Palestinian prisoners with a limited equality to Israeli domestic prisoners in terms of when they are released. And yet Shuki and mondonut and the like, who apparently have no trouble with your average Israeli murderer going free in 20 years or less, but balk at giving Palestinians the same chance.

        And the Israeli government pretends that it is making some grand sacrifice in releasing non-citizen Palestinian prisoners who would have been released at the exact same time had they been Israelis.

        From wikipedia, on Homicide in Israeli Law:

        Murder:The premeditated killing of a person, or the intentional killing of a person whilst committing, preparing for, or escaping from any crime, is murder. The mandatory punishment for this crime is life imprisonment. Life is usually commuted (clemency from the President) to 30 years from which a third can be deducted by the parole board for good behaviour.

        On edit: Israeli prisoners however get other perks in being eligible for prison furloughs well before their sentences have reached the parole stage. I’ve heard no one here complain about that.

      • tree on December 31, 2013, 6:34 pm

        And further on the lax enforcement of criminal penalties against Jewish extremists who murder Palestinians, here’s an excerpt from +972’s Roi Maor:

        Even when perpetrators are caught, their treatment leaves a lot to be desired. The penalties imposed by courts tend to be severe when it comes to the most violent crimes. However, Israeli presidents over the years have used their pardon powers to mitigate the punishment of Jewish extremists. To illustrate the magnitude of this problem, I have listed the most prominent cases from the last 30 years:

        -The infamous Jewish Underground, active in the 1980s, was responsible for numerous attacks in which three innocent Palestinian civilians were killed and dozens were injured. Fifteen members of this terrorist group were convicted. Three of them received life sentences, but were released after seven years when President Chaim Herzog, of the Labor Party, commuted their sentences.

        -Allan Goodman, who murdered a Palestinian in Jerusalem in 1982, served less than 16 years in prison, after his life sentence was commuted.

        -Nir Efroni murdered a Palestinian-Israeli gas attendant in Zichron Yaakov in 1984. He and his partner stabbed their victim multiple times and returned to stab him again when they noticed he had not yet died. Efroni was caught only six years later, after his partner ratted him out, and served just 13 years.

        -David Ben Shimol spent only 11 years in prison for firing a rocket on a commuter bus in 1984 that killed one Palestinian and injured dozens.

        -Danny Eisenmann, Gill Fuchs and Michal Hillel served 11, nine and five years respectively for murdering a Palestinian cab driver in 1985.

        -Nachson Wals served just 8 years in prison for killing a Palestinian in 1991.

        -In 1992, Kahanist youth threw a grenade in a Jerusalem market, killing one Palestinian and injuring dozens. They received sentences ranging from 5-15 years, of which they served 7-9.

        -Daniel Morali served just 13 years for killing a Palestinian truck driver in 1994.

        To recap, Israel is quick to condemn and promise the capture of violent Jewish extremists. These promises are often broken, most investigations fail, and the penalties for those who do get caught often end up being woefully inadequate. Don’t be surprised if the problem only gets worse.

      • Bumblebye on December 31, 2013, 7:09 pm

        Thank you for that brilliant ‘expansion’. The sheer hypocrisy of the zionuts is so infuriating!

    • annie on December 31, 2013, 3:51 pm

      And it is the Jews fault that there is not piece in the region?

      it’s spelled p e a c e

      • puppies on December 31, 2013, 5:09 pm

        Not for her. What she wants is a big piece. In fact, all the land.

      • Citizen on January 1, 2014, 9:09 am

        @ Annie Robbins
        The hasbara bot made a typical zionist freudian slip. When people talk about p e a c e, they interpret such as p i e c e. As in, gimme a piece of this land, a piece of that land. Not to worry, I’ll just take it while you chat, just as Woody & puppies say above in this thread.

      • Kathleen on January 2, 2014, 4:45 pm

        great catch…telling

    • talknic on December 31, 2013, 6:41 pm

      @Shuki “the release of murderers and terrorists.”

      Specifically who was a murderer and/or a terrorist? If they attacked an armed person in Occupied Territory they’re not a murderer.

      ” And it is the Jews fault that there is not piece in the region?”

      Your attempt to conflate Jews with Israel is cute … moronic Hasbara tactic 101

      The Occupying Power, the State of Israel, is in breach of the Law, UN Charter and relative conventions, a serious “obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East”

      “Give me a break…”

      You want to be treated differently to how you treat others? You obviously believe you can make accusations without evidence and conflate without getting picked up on it.

      Meanwhile the State of Israel has been given hundreds of breaks. Hundreds of OPPORTUNITIES to adhere to the law as requested by the UNSC in their resolutions. Israel has ignored them, what a disgusting display of the true nature of the Israeli leadership.

  2. Obsidian on December 31, 2013, 11:25 am

    If Israel doesn’t want peace, than why release the terrorists?

    • Woody Tanaka on December 31, 2013, 11:44 am

      “If Israel doesn’t want peace, than why release the terrorists?”

      You make the statement like there is any connection. The fact that they released those people (they’ve never been convicted by any legitimate court, and they are fighting a war of independence against a brutal oppressive force, so the label “terrorist” is inappropriate) simply means that the zios are making a tactical move to entice the PA into the latest round of delay-tactics-while-the-Palestinian-land-is-stolen.

      If Israel actually wanted peace, it would accept the Arab Peace Plan. But it doesn’t because it doesn’t.

    • AlGhorear on December 31, 2013, 12:03 pm

      By Shuki’s and Obsidian’s definitions, Jewish resistance fighters in the Warsaw ghetto would have been murderers and terrorists.

      I’m happy for the prisoners release, but they’ve only really been relocated to the different prison of living in the West Bank. Plus, there’s nothing to stop Israel from re-arresting them and others to keep the jails and prisons full.

    • amigo on December 31, 2013, 12:05 pm

      “If Israel doesn’t want peace, than why release the terrorists?” obsidious.

      Only a simpleton would ask that question.

      It is part of keeping the fake Peace Talks going while stealing more land.

    • Hostage on December 31, 2013, 6:38 pm

      If Israel doesn’t want peace, than why release the terrorists?

      Well, Abbas demanded a prisoner release for cooperating with Israel on security and limiting PA resistance measures to non-violent demonstrations. Netanyahu rewarded Hamas with a prisoner release for capturing Shalit and it looked like “the only thing Israelis understand is violence or the use of force”.

      The press in Israel says Netanyahu is using the prisoners as bargaining chips for all the thousands of new settlement units he has announced since the talks began. Nobody thinks he wants peace. Quite a few editorials say he won’t ever actually build all these new units anyway, and is just a bad negotiator.

    • Cliff on December 31, 2013, 6:39 pm


      What terrorists? The Jewish settlers? The IDF?

    • Citizen on January 1, 2014, 9:26 am

      @ Obsidian
      Israel releases a few prisoners as PR to hide it’s continuing settlement expansion and to hopefully get a prisoner exchange, that is those handful of Palestinian prisoners for, not any Israeli prisoners in Palestinian jails or detention centers, but for the American spy and traitor, Pollard (now a dual citizen). Israel wants Obama-Kerry to do this, and sell it as a good faith gesture to the American Intelligence community, and hence also to the American people. Interesting, eh? A prisoner exchange between two governments to show good faith on both sides when they are not sitting at the table as the two parties in conflict? Why should the neutral broker
      of peace talks toss one of said two parties in conflict a traitorous spy sitting in the neutral broker’s prison? If Pollard is freed, it will set a precedent that makes US security apparatus a joke and insult to all Americans.

  3. MHughes976 on December 31, 2013, 12:19 pm

    The Valley annexation proposal may be little more than a shot across Kerry’s bows, I suppose.

  4. yrn on December 31, 2013, 4:17 pm

    Those Killers are freedom fighters.

    That’s MW official statement ?!

    • annie on December 31, 2013, 4:27 pm

      That’s MW official statement ?!

      only one letter off! you’d have to ask MRW if it’s his official statement:

      • yrn on December 31, 2013, 5:09 pm

        Annie Robbins

        read again
        Those Killers are freedom fighters.
        That’s MW official statement ?!

      • annie on December 31, 2013, 6:39 pm

        oh, i see american made the statement too. i can only speak for myself, i think palestinian prisoners are freedom fighters, yes. but as far as i know there is no MW official statement regarding palestinian freedom fighters.

      • yrn on January 1, 2014, 4:50 am

        Annie Robbins.

        I am not surprised that you see those killers as freedom fighters.

        there is no MW official statement regarding palestinian freedom fighters.
        What is MW afraid to come out with a statement, guess so.

      • annie on January 1, 2014, 7:04 am

        What is MW afraid to come out with a statement, guess so.

        really. and where is huffington post’s official statement? or nyt? or daily beast? or wapo? since when are websites required to come out with official statements about anything to satisfy…you?

        i think bush sr referenced bin laden as a freedom fighter once, does that count as an ‘official statement’? what’s up w/the ‘official statement’ lingo anyway? MW does not issue ‘official’ statements as far as i know.

        is there some hook here i am not getting? why not link to the jerusalem post’s official statement about freedom fighters, or ynet, israeli national news, camera, memri, adl, commentary or the israeli pm’s office, just to show us how it’s done and how they are fearless or maybe we could all be like the o so NOT courageous simon wiesenthal center and issue our official lists of official statements every year just to pretend we’re important authorities while funding the excavation/destruction of muslim graveyards under the guise of tolerance..

        seriously what is your point?

      • Hostage on December 31, 2013, 7:02 pm

        Those Killers are freedom fighters.
        That’s MW official statement ?!

        Who knows? Our own prisons release innocent people everyday who were wrongly convicted. More to the point, prisoners are supposed to be released and repatriated as part of the process of ending an armed conflict under the rules of the Geneva Conventions. That supposedly is what all this Madrid/Oslo/Quartet/Annapolis/Kerry initiative has been about.

        Israel’s rules of engagement allow IDF members to kill anyone, civilian or milita, if soldiers feel their lives are in peril. It’s certainly true that some of the prisoners, like Kamil Awad Ali Ahmad, were only accused of killing Israeli soldiers and had already served lengthy sentences.

    • American on December 31, 2013, 4:45 pm

      They are freedom fighters.
      Different from the zionist who were actually invaders, as well as killers.

    • eljay on January 1, 2014, 10:21 am

      >> Those Killers are freedom fighters.

      Not all Palestinians who kill are freedom fighters. But all Zionists are supremacists.

  5. Hostage on December 31, 2013, 6:01 pm

    Already Israel controls 90% of the Jordan Valley. It was demarcated as “Area C in the Oslo peace accords, transferring full security control to Israel.

    That’s not really a good faith interpretation of the Accords. Israel was already in control of Area C, as the occupying power, before the Oslo Accords were signed. The portions of Area C and the Jordan Valley not physically occupied by settlements or military bases were actually supposed to be transferred to the Palestinians under the terms of the Oslo II Accords. The settlements and military bases were a final status issue, but 242 required Israeli military withdrawal from territories, like the Jordan Valley, that had been captured during the war:

    Land . . .
    2.2. In Area C, during the first phase of redeployment Israel will transfer to the Council civil powers and responsibilities not relating to territory, as set out in Annex III.
    3 For the purpose of this Agreement and until the completion of the first phase of the further redeployments:

    3.3. “Area C” means areas of the West Bank outside Areas A and B, which, except for the issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations, will be gradually transferred to Palestinian jurisdiction in accordance with this Agreement.

    Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (Oslo II)
    (September 28, 1995)

  6. Hostage on December 31, 2013, 6:19 pm

    Months ago these commuted sentences were hailed as a goodwill gesture by Israel after finally agreeing to discuss the big issues: borders, refugees, Jerusalem and water. But now it seems they again will be tabled for establishing a “framework” of what will be discussed in the discussions, and Palestinian statehood has been officially put on hold in this round of talks.

    The General Assembly has adopted several resolutions which explain that Palestinian statehood is not subject to any veto or the peace talks. Likewise the Security Council adopted resolution 1515 and endorsed the Quartet Road Map which requires the US to recognize Palestinian statehood and promote UN membership (Phase II) before negotiations begin on Phase III final status issues.

    Erekat has also spelled out that the framework agreement itself has to define the borders, land swaps, security coordination, and the issue of refugees or the talks won’t be extended.,7340,L-4467134,00.html

    He has also noted that the talks are going nowhere and that the West Bank government is ready to resume its campaign to join UN and other international bodies in order to “prosecute Israel”.

  7. biorabbi on December 31, 2013, 7:18 pm

    Gruesome. The killers are freedom fighters.

    • Citizen on January 1, 2014, 9:41 am

      @ biorabbi
      What’s gruesome is the celebration of the likes of Baruch Goldstein:

      Do you consider the Stern gang, for example, freedom fighters?

    • Talkback on January 3, 2014, 9:35 am

      Yeah, like “Israel’s Independence War” whis is just a term not only for terrorism, but also for the paramilitary Junta’s illegal conquest of Palestine including the massacring, expelling, denationalizing, dispossessing, disenfrenchizing, looting and raping Gentiles.

  8. just on January 1, 2014, 10:15 am

    What’s also disgusting is the continued push to have Pollard released………….more impassioned hot air by the “lawmakers”.

    “JERUSALEM (AP) — A huge majority of Israeli lawmakers has signed a petition calling for the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard imprisoned in the United States.

    The petition, signed by 106 out of Israel’s 120 lawmakers, was handed over to Israeli President Shimon Peres on Wednesday.

    Peres says it was “both a right and a duty” to bring the bipartisan request by the Israeli lawmakers to President Barack Obama’s attention.”

    Even Shalit has joined the “chorus”.

    • Walid on January 1, 2014, 11:06 am

      Just, the release of Pollard is somehow tied to the release of Lebanese Communist activist George Abdallah, the longest serving political prisoner held in a European jail. After having served a term of 29 years on a condemnation of 20 years to life, the French government was about to release him on parole and expel him to Lebanon last February but at the last minute, French Interior Minister Valls, an Israel-firster, received a petition signed by US Rep Grace Meng and 50 other Congressmen asking France to not release him and his release was refused. George Abdallah has been held on faked circumstantial evidence based on his having been in possession of a fake passport when he was arrested for the murder of 2 Israelis in France in 1982. The release of Pollard will probably happen soon in exchange for the release of Abdallah.

    • annie on January 1, 2014, 11:13 am

      US administration officials clarified to their Israeli counterparts that there is “no chance” that US President Barack Obama would be willing to free Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard in return for the release of Israeli-Arab prisoners, Israel Radio reported on Wednesday.

      However, a knowledgeable source who has been briefed on the discussions with Washington, downplayed the importance of the White House announcement claiming that Pollard will not be released. “This is simply posturing,” the source said, “to be expected as part of the process. Pollard is needed as a confidence-building gesture to break an impasse which the US created, not as a quid pro quo.”

      a confidence-building gesture to break an impasse which the US created? what does that mean?

      • Citizen on January 1, 2014, 2:50 pm

        Yeah, the US is the one that created an impasse. Certainly not the endless illegal Israeli settlements. Israel wants the US to keep chatting until Palestinians have about 1% of what’s left of their former land. Palestinians can then have a “sovereign state” on that shred of land. As Abbas said recently to Kerry’s deep concern about Israel’s security, it’s the Palestinians that have the real concern there.

      • Sherri Munnerlyn on January 1, 2014, 9:51 pm

        What I find shameful is how prisoners are released in the middle of the night and all the effort Israel puts into quenching celebrations. We all know none of the over 5000 Palestinian prisoners received trials that were just or lawful under international law. That means no convictions were legitimate convictions, these are men unlawfully detained for over 20 years, a cause all Palestinians should be able to celebrate and feel no guilt or shame in celebrating freedom for these unlawfully detained men, all Palestinian heroes. Occupation even seeks to deprive the people of celebrating freedom when it comes.

      • Hostage on January 2, 2014, 5:52 am

        a confidence-building gesture to break an impasse which the US created? what does that mean?

        It’s a backhanded way of saying Obama has been putting pressure on Israel to release prisoners. But he is still refusing to release Pollard in the wake of Snowden’s disclosures that the NSA was tapping the Israeli Prime Minister’s phone.
        The Beast : Obama pressures Israel to release 26 PA Prisoners as Peace Talks continue
        U.S., UK spies targeted Israeli PM, EU official: Snowden leaks

      • Citizen on January 2, 2014, 6:58 am

        A distinction is Israel is asking the US to release an American spy for a foreign country (hence, a traitor), while what Snowden revealed is standard practice of all countries to spy on each other (no element of being a traitor on either side). Behind Israel’s request to free Pollard “on humanitarian grounds,” is the Zionist thought that Israel is the nation state of all Jews around the world, regardless if a diaspora Jew happens to have been born & raised outside of the state of Israel. Behind this thought is the thought that the Jewish people have always been a nation, even before the rise of the nation state, as is directly implied by the modern state of Israel’s law of return applicable to only Jews.

        Pollard applied for Israeli citizenship and Israel granted it in 1995 even though he had not yet emigrated to Israel. It’s not possible for a person to lose U.S. citizenship while physically present in the US except by renunciation filed with the Attorney General or conviction for treason.

      • Hostage on January 2, 2014, 11:23 am

        A distinction is Israel is asking the US to release an American spy for a foreign country (hence, a traitor)

        Nope, that’s precisely the problem. Kerry and Abbas have been pressuring Netanyahu to release Israeli Arab prisoners, i.e. traitors. When Netanyahu refused, Abbas said that was an assurance the US provided for holding the 9 months of talks, and that the deal is off, unless there is an agreed release:

        Netanyahu reiterated to Kerry that he was not prepared to release Israeli Arab prisoners as any kind of a goodwill gesture to Abbas, but said he might consider doing so as a gesture to the United States, were Washington to free Pollard.

        — See Kerry ‘deceived’ Israel over prisoner releases, TV report claims Israeli official tells Channel 2 that US secretary allowed Abbas to believe Netanyahu would free Israeli Arabs, then tried to persuade the PM to do so

        See also Abbas: ‘No final deal until all prisoners are released’: Third group of Palestinian prisoners released from Israeli prison. All 26 Palestinians have been convicted in deadly attacks, have spent between 19, 28 years in prison. In concession from Israel, five are Israeli-Arabs returning to East Jerusalem home,7340,L-4471419,00.html

      • Hostage on January 2, 2014, 11:50 am

        P.S. Here is another report (negotiation via press leak) which says that Kerry agreed to convey the demand for Pollard’s release after he misled the Palestinians about Israel’s intentions:

        The three tranches of prisoners, so far, have comprised of Arabs who had been living in PA-controlled areas, but reports from diplomatic sources on the peace talks from Israel’s Channel 2 pointed to a dispute over the final tranche, which might see the release of Israeli Arab prisoners back into Israeli society, a move that the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused after learning that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had promised it to the PA. Kerry was reported to then tell Netanyahu that he would bring to Washington the Israeli request to free Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard from a U.S. prison before Israel would consider the final tranche. In total, 104 prisoners were agreed to be released in the four tranches.

        Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has two cards to play when lobbying for Jonathan Pollard’s release: the US espionage scandal and the expected third phase of the Palestinian prisoner release.
        — Netanyahu looks to leverage Snowden scandal to secure Pollard’s release

        TEL AVIV – The disclosure last week that American intelligence spied on former Israeli prime ministers has given new momentum to the effort to secure a pardon for convicted spy Jonathan Pollard. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and several leading members of Knesset have called in recent days for Pollard’s release following reports that documents leaked by former defense contractor Edward Snowden showed U.S. intelligence had targeted the e-mail addresses of Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert. —

    • Kathleen on January 2, 2014, 4:57 pm

      Huge push to release Pollard taking place. If this is even considered there will be a huge push for the courts to release all evidence against Pollard that was used to prosecute and never released for the public

      Not much being written about this

      • Kathleen on January 2, 2014, 5:13 pm
        5. Jonathan J. Pollard’s most heinous crime. Israel’s only American spy ever to do serious time in jail—despite the best efforts of his many American and Israeli supporters to spring him—once confidently claimed before he was convicted that “…it was the established policy of the Department of Justice not to prosecute U.S. citizens for espionage activities on behalf of Israel.”

        Many believe it was only Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger’s classified briefing to sentencing Judge Aubry Robinson that made Pollard the near sole exception to that curious rule.

        Some Pentagon insiders and national security reporters believe Pollard’s sentence was so harsh because Israel used stolen U.S. intelligence as “trade goods” with the Soviet Union to increase Russian émigrés to Israel.

        As Pollard’s sentence draws to a close, few know exactly what Weinberger told Robinson that caused him to deliver a life sentence. The recent partial releases of a CIA damage assessment and a DIA video about Pollard shed little light.

  9. UshPhe on January 2, 2014, 12:08 am

    I’m not as educated on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as most here…so I apologize if this question may sound stupid. Why is it that the two state solution is dead? Israel ordered settlements to be dismantled in Gaza before it left in 2005. Why is it impossible for the same to be done in the West Bank? I understand that the motives for forcing the settlers to leave were not at all altruistic, obviously. But why can the same thing not be done in the West Bank, obviously under different circumstances wherein Israel is forced to do so?

    • UshPhe on January 2, 2014, 12:10 am

      And when I said “left Gaza” I meant the settlers…I understand that Israel controls effectively controls Gaza.

    • Hostage on January 2, 2014, 9:02 am

      Why is it that the two state solution is dead?

      It was never really practical in the first place. That’s why the UN proposed an economic union with guaranteed right of transit, use of ports, and regional integration, i.e. a common currency and revenue sharing for essential public services and common infrastructure, like utilities, waterways, transportation, and communications networks. The plan included a board of governors with an equal number of voting members from each state and the UN organization, representing the Corpus Separatum. Most people fixate on the map and never read “The Plan for the Future Government of Palestine” (General Assembly resolution 181) or the UNSCOP proposal. The “States” had control over residency and immigration, but only exercised limited or restricted sovereignty in many other areas.

    • Kathleen on January 2, 2014, 5:51 pm

      Ush Phe
      I think Prof Mearsheimer explains why the two state solution is dead…best

      Watch all six segments

  10. Kathleen on January 2, 2014, 5:53 pm

    On NPR the other day in one of the news updates the reporter said that the Palestinians had given up their stance that all illegal settlement should cease for the release of these prisoners. Completely inaccurate. Anyone else hear this on NPR?

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