Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli government sent an unequivocally bold message to their constituents, the Palestinians and the world of the obscene price they are willing to pay for peace — Netanyahu's cabinet voted, by a 13-7 decision, to release 104 Palestinian terrorists from prison as a precondition to simply resuming peace talks.
The Palestinian Authority welcomed the decision as Chief Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Negotiator Saeb Erekat said, "We will continue working for the release of all our political prisoners. The Israeli Cabinet decision is an overdue step..."
Israel's decision to release these 104 prisoners is, however, regrettable because these are no political prisoners. They are shameless terrorists convicted of perpetrating gruesome and heinous crimes against Israelis, Israeli Arabs and Palestinians alike. The list of pre-Oslo Accord prisoners includes those serving terms ranging from 20 years to 16 life sentences and all have committed reprehensible crimes against men, women and children.
These "men" – it is difficult to consider someone who can take pride in slitting the throat of a civilian a "man" – include:
Mohamed Dawd, from Qalqilya, who threw a Molotov cocktail at a car in 1987 killing Ofra and Tal Moses.
Jumaa Adem and Mahmoud Kharbish who attacked a bus in the Jordan Valley with firebombs in 1988, killing Rachel Weiss, her three children and a soldier, David Dolorosa, who sacrificed his life trying to save the other four.
Samir Sarsawi from Ibtin, who was jailed in 1988 for throwing a grenade in the middle of a Haifa street.
Mahmoud Moamed, who murdered Israel Prize Laureate Menahem Stern in the Valley of the Cross in 1989.
Jamal Muhsan from Jenin who stabbed Shlomo Yehia, 76, in the town of Kadima.
Two Gaza residents who murdered 70-year-old Holocaust survivor, Izaac Rotenberg, as he worked at a construction site in Petah Tikva.
The list of murderers and butchers is extensive and a disturbing and unsettling read. I have only discussed the atrocities perpetrated by 8 out of the 104 terrorists to be released and encourage everyone to read the full list of pre-Oslo Accord prisoners who may be released (which can be found here).
This reckless appeasement on behalf of the Israeli cabinet shows a willingness to sacrifice justice not for peace, but for simply the ability to discuss peace and sets a dangerous precedent for future talks.
It is important to remember that this gesture is only for the prospects of sitting down for peace talks with Palestinians and guarantees no peace deal.
This isn't the first time Israel has made a sacrifice for peace. Two recent examples include:
In 2005, Israel unilaterally evicted all Jewish residents from the Gaza Strip as an act of goodwill with the hopes of reaching a peace deal and instead had that gesture responded to with constant rocket fire and attacks on her citizens.
In October of 2011, Israel released an additional 1,027 Palestinian prisoners to bring only one Israeli Soldier, Gilad Shalit, home.
The release of these 104 prisoners makes me wonder when the last time the Palestinians made a concession for peace? Would any other country go to the same extent Israel has just to negotiate for peace?
I commend Israel for its dedication to peace and the move is affirmation that Israel remains the strongest democracy in the Middle East, but the action still troubles many Israelis, other outside observers and myself.
Without justice, there can only be a hollow peace in Israel. With the murderers of many Israelis roaming free, it will be difficult for many to feel that true justice was administered and that a genuine peace can be truly achieved.