Wednesday 14 August 2013

Murderers for Peace

As a condition to its participation in peace negotiations with Israel, the Palestinian Authority  has demanded the release of terrorists who murdered civilians in cold blood.  What does this say about Palestinian leadership's sincerity, desire for peace and commitment to abandoning violence?

Abbas smiles in the company of Amna Muna, the terrorist
who lured 16-years-old Ofir Rahum to his death in 2001

Isaac Rotenberg was born in Poland in 1927.  Most of his family was murdered in the Holocaust, victims of the Sobibor death camp.  But Isaac managed to escape from the camp and joined the partisans.  After the war he tried to make his way by ship to Mandate Palestine, but was apprehended by the British Mandate Authorities and interned in a detention camp in Cyprus until 1947. After his release Isaac arrived in pre-state Israel and found work in construction, as a plasterer.  On 29 March 1994, the 67 years old Isaac was at his place of work in Petah Tikva when he was attacked by two Palestinian terrorists, who used axes to hit the back of his neck.  Critically wounded, the victim died two days later.  The murderers were identified as Abu Moussa Salam Ali Atiya and Shabbir Qassam Taher Hazam.  It appears that they had committed the murder as an act of initiation towards admission into a terror organisation affiliated with Fatah, the main component of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).  They did not target Isaac Rotenberg in particular, they just needed to kill a Jew.  The two murderers were apprehended, tried and sentenced to life in prison. But they will not end their lives in prison.  In fact, Ali Atiya is already free, while Taher Hazam is likely to emerge from prison in the next few months.  Both were included on a list of prisoners whose release the leaders of the Palestinian Authority demanded as the “price” for negotiating towards a peace agreement with Israel.  The list includes 104 “prisoners”, most of which have been found guilty of indiscriminate, cold-blooded murder of civilians. Officially, the Palestinian Authority explains that the 104 committed their acts “in times of conflict”, before the signing of the Oslo Accords, which included a commitment by the PLO to renounce terror.  This is an interesting justification, especially in light of the fact that the Palestinian leadership and their supporters frequently cite “international law” in support of their cause.  We are left to wonder: did international law permit deliberate killing of civilians before the Oslo Accords?  More importantly, on what paragraph of international law does the Palestinian Authority base its demand to release terrorists guilty of such crimes? But that is not the end of the story.  Lest someone naïve enough should think otherwise, let me mention that the terrorists are not transferred from Israeli to Palestinian prisons, there to complete their punishment; nor are they quietly sent to their homes, there to live in shame, ostracised by a society disgusted with their acts.  No, the released terrorists were received with singing, dancing and fireworks.  They earned a warm welcome by none other than Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of PLO, President of the Palestinian Authority or, according to his self-bestowed title, President of the State of Palestine.  Mr. Abbas shook Ali Atiya’s hand and thanked him for his contribution to the Palestinian cause – the highlight of which contribution was the murder of Isaac Rotenberg. Mr. Abbas is often portrayed in Western media as a moderate.  Many Westerners urge Israel to “strengthen” Abbas, as the most peaceful of Palestinian leaders.  One needs to wonder: how is demanding the release of terrorists compatible with that image?  Why would someone who wants peace praise the acts of such murderers and kiss them three times on the cheek?  And what message does this send to the Palestinian population Mr. Abbas is supposed to lead towards peace?  What does it signal to a young generation of Palestinians that Abbas has solemnly committed to educate in the spirit of tolerance? Many Western commentators (especially on the far-left side of the political spectrum) claim that recent Israeli plans to build additional apartments in East Jerusalem amount to “a provocation”.  If building apartments is a provocation, how does one call embracing terrorists who murdered Israeli civilians in cold blood?  At the very least, such shameless behaviour casts a huge doubt over Mr. Abbas’s sincerity, both when he says that he wants peace and when he claims he renounced the path of violence.

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