Palestinian prisoner release: a bereaved father’s reaction
The Israeli government has announced it will release 26 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails to satisfy conditions necessary to resume diplomatic negotiations between the two governments…Arnold Roth’s daughter was murdered by terrorists. The former Melbournian has an opinion….From the Israeli Prime Minister’s office:
In wake of the Cabinet decision to resume the diplomatic negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and authorize a team of ministers to deal with the release of prisoners during the negotiations, the ministerial committee convened this evening (Sunday, 11 August 2013). Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon chaired the discussion; Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri also participated, as did representatives of the Prison Service, the Justice Ministry, the IDF and other agencies.
The committee approved the release of 26 prisoners. The list of prisoners will be published on the Prison Service website (http://www.ips.gov.il<http://www.ips.gov.il/>) later tonight after notice has been given to those bereaved families that asked to be informed in advance.
The list includes 14 prisoners who will be transferred to Gaza and 12 from Judea and Samaria. Eight prisoners on the list were due to be released in the next three years and two in the next six months. The prisoner release will be carried out at least 48 hours after the list will have been published. It was emphasized in the aforesaid discussion that that if any of the released prisoners return to hostile activity against the State of Israel, they will be returned to continue serving their sentences.
Jerusalem-based, but formerly from Melbourne, Arnold and Frimet Roth are one of the bereaved families. Their daughter Malki was murdered at the age of 15 in the 2001 terrorist attack on the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem.
From Arnold Roth:
The stunningly cold reception given by Israel’s highest court to a legal application Sunday by a group of terror victims reminds those of us personally impacted by terrorism that it is political considerations, more than any other factor, that determine the contours of our lives. This is a shocking realization.
The High Court of Justice was asked to intervene, to review and if appropriate to prevent the decision taken by the government to throw open the doors of some of the country’s most secure prisons and allow the convicts to walk out and into the bright lights of a reception fit for heroes, courtesy of the Mahmoud Abbas PA regime.
At this late hour of the night it appears the court will decline to get involved. The reasons hardly matter at this point. The outcome is the thing.
Almost all of us victim families live our lives far from politics. Like most of our neighbours, we assume the politicians, whether from the right or the left, religious or secular, will make decisions more or less in accordance with their perceptions of what their constituents want. In letting them getting on with it, we assume the general respect for justice and fairness that is inculcated into all of us guides those decisions.
But in the current controversy over the government of Israel’s decision last month to bow to fierce US pressure and release more than a hundred terrorists convicted of the most serious and hateful crimes with which a society ever has to cope, we have been shocked into the realization that sometimes politicians are just… politicians.
Israelis were polled just before the decision to release the terrorists. In a country that is usually impossibly divided on important issues, it’s not common to have absolutely clear-cut majorities on almost anything. But on whether Israel should do what Secretary of State John Kerry insisted had to be done, release more than 100 killers, the percentage in favour was 9.4%, or about one in eleven Israelis. My wife and I wrote about this on our blog [http://thisongoingwar.blogspot.co.il/2013/07/28-jul-13-releasing-unrepentant-killers.html]
In 25 years of living in Israel, I don’t remember another matter on which Israeli society was so firmly in agreement. Yet the government along with its elite politicians has shrugged off the views of the majority as well as the rulings of dozens of courts and hundreds of judges. If this has caused those men and women in political office any serious discomfort, it is difficult to divine.
By contrast, and from personal observation, I can say that many of the victims of those terrorists’ deeds are literally in agony. The questions they (and we) are asking about government policy are weighty, painful and – for now – entirely lacking a response from the country’s leadership.