Friday, July 20, 2007

Shabbat Shalom 5 Av 5767

Goodwill Gesture or Suicide?
Israel releases 250 Palestinian prisoners to strengthen Abbas

These are times of life and death decision for the State of Israel. Besides the highly publicized threats of annihilation from the President of Iran, the Palestinian issue is at a crossroads, with Israel hopeful one path will lead to peace. Unfortunately, that route may only be a mirage for people desperate for security.

After the recent Palestinian civil war, the United States, Israel and the rest of the civilized world, began taking steps to strengthen embattled President Mahmoud Abbas, who is viewed to be a moderate willing to work with and recognize Israel.

So once again Israel finds themselves in the position of giving into demands for promises of security or at least talks about security. Yesterday Israel made a "goodwill" gesture be releasing 250 Palestinian prisoners, most of them part of Abbas' Fatah Party. However, one of those released was Abdel Rahim Malouh, the second-in-command in the PLO faction, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Back in 2001 he orchestrated the assassination of an Israeli Cabinet minister. Today he is a free man courtesy of the Israeli government.

As the former prisoners were getting off the bus that led them to freedom, the Palestinian Authority already began downplaying the gesture. "Your policy is a policy of small change. You do a little here, a little there," said Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. "Israel is a large, strong country. Israel can allow itself to be more bold."

The comments made by Fayyad are disheartening, but not surprising. Releasing 250 people who attempted to murder Jews and one who planned and possibly carried out the assassination of a cabinet official, is not seen as a "bold move." So what would be a bold move? Not defending against terrorist attacks? Permitting Kaytusha rockets to land without retaliation. Releasing terrorists who have murdered innocent woman and children and simply ask them not to do it again? What can Israel do that isn't suicidal?

As a new chapter supposedly begins with Abbas and the Fatah government, lets remember that Hamas still controls Gaza and they will never recognize Israel's right to exist. Even if a miracle is achieved and peace can be reached with Abbas, the Palestinian issue is not resolved.

Cautious optimism is how Israel must approach Abbas and I reluctantly use the word "optimism." The Jewish State must also not begin giving and giving without security. Settlements Israel gave up over the past few years are now being used as staging areas for terrorist attacks, including launching missiles and rockets at Israeli civilians.

Sadly the current Israeli leadership under PM Ehud Olmert are not competent to move Israel forward during these uncertain times. His approval ratings are so low that they make the United States Congress look popular. Another reason that I have little optimism.

Only time will tell if Abbas can be a partner for peace and if Olmert is capable of negotiating terms that bring security instead of land for more dead Jews.


Sorry for the short post, check back Monday for much more.


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