Kerry’s middle east lark puts Israeli lives at risk

No good can come from John Kerry’s push for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. In all likelihood, the negotiations will produce no deal. In any event, they will produce no real peace.

But Kerry’s lark has already produced harm. To keep Kerry’s peace fantasy alive, and thus curry his favor, Israel has agreed to release 104 Palestinian terrorists.

According to Prime Minister Netanyahu, the release will be carried out carried out in stages after the start of negotiations and in accordance with their progress. But this looks like a fig leaf. A Palestinian official says that the first group was expected to be released in August, and the rest within six months.

It is outrageous that the U.S. would pressure Israel into such a move. MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud) is right to call the release of terrorists “sure death sentence for countless Israeli citizens.” Feiglin is also right to insist that “releasing 104 ticking time bombs as a bribe to start negotiations. . .is something that any moral person must rise up against.” And Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) is right when he says that “the mass release of terrorists only encourages terror and increases our enemies’ self-confidence.”

To be sure, a case can be made for releasing the prisoners when/if an agreement that truly promotes peace is reached. But to agree to a release in advance of talks, and to begin the release prior to reaching an agreement, is indefensible. Indeed, the Palestinian’s insistence on such an agreement as a precondition for talks confirms their bad faith and constitutes another reason why Israel should have told Kerry to take a hike over to Egypt or Syria where the real trouble is.

It is not lost on Israelis that the U.S. (including even the Obama-led U.S.) would never release terrorists who carried out attacks that killed American citizens. The U.S. won’t even release Jonathan Pollard who never killed anyone and who has been imprisoned for almost 30 years.

Although Netanyahu’s cabinet approved the release by a vote of 13-7, the move has inflamed Israeli public opinion. Thus, Netanyahu took the unusual move of issuing an “open letter to the citizens of Israel.” He stated, in part, that “from time to time prime ministers are called on to make decisions that go against public opinion — when the matter is important for the country.” He added that the decision “is painful for the bereaved families, it is painful for the entire nation, and it is also very painful for me. It collides with the incomparably important value of justice.”

But the value of justice cannot be “incomparably important” when it is overridden by the desire to suck up to John Kerry.

No wonder Israelis have never quite trusted Netanyahu.