Meanwhile, in the Holy Land

It seems appropriate, before Christmas Day comes to an end, to summarize the latest news from the Holy Land. The first item for consideration is that there has been an uptick in terrorist activity by Palestinians against Israel. For example, an Israeli civilian working for the Defense Ministry was shot and killed on Tuesday by Palestinian sniper fire while working to fix damages caused to the Israeli-Gaza border fence. Other examples include a foiled bus bomb, rocket fire from Gaza, and the knifing of a border patrolman outside of Jerusalem.

The Gaza shooting occurred following the reaching of “understandings” pursuant to which Israel eased restriction on Gazans working close to security fence that had been imposed because of security concerns. Obviously, the shooting of the Israeli civilian is a blatant violation of the understandings. It prompts the question of why Israel bothers to reach “understandings” with the Palestinians.

The second item for consideration is Israel’s announcement that, notwithstanding the uptick in Palestinian terrorism, Israel will go ahead and release 26 convicted terrorists next week. Israel had agreed to this prisoner release, and others that have already occurred, as part of the framework for the renewed “peace” talks that John Kerry is sponsoring. The rationale for proceeding with the release is that refusing to do so would produce significant negative diplomatic fallout.

The third item for consideration is Israel’s decision to couple the release of terrorist prisoners with the announcement of new construction beyond the “green line.” Presumably, the move is designed to make the prisoner release sit better with hawkish elements within the governing coalition.

But the move comes in the face of appeals by the U.S. and the EU not to announce new construction, and amidst warnings that the announcement could torpedo Kerry’s “peace talks.”

This prompts the question of why, if Israel is willing to endure diplomatic condemnation for announcing new construction, it is unwilling to risk it for refusing to release terrorists, or at least delaying their release until the spike in Palestinian violence against Israel subsides. Or, as mothers of the victims of terrorism are asking, the government is taking a step to build trust with our enemies, but what step is the government taking to build trust with its citizens? New construction, though desirable, doesn’t seem like a satisfactory answer.

Denouncing what she calls the “cycle of capitulation,” one mother declared that Israel has “lost its moral compass.” That’s a plausible conclusion to reach from the three items discussed above.

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