Tuesday, August 06, 2013

One-Sided Conditional Peace Talks Are Not Peace Talks

Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Dershowitz: US Presses Israel to Release Murderers but wont release Pollard

The Israeli cabinet took a courageous and politically unpopular step by
approving the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners, including many
terrorists who had murdered Israeli babies, women, the elderly and other
civilians. According to Israeli intelligence some of these released
murderers are likely to rejoin terrorist organizations and may kill again.
Relatives and friends of the victims have protested the decision to release
these killers. Yet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his
cabinet withstood these pressures and ordered their release.

The United States government had pressured the Israeli government to release
these prisoners because the Palestinian Authority had made their release a
condition to resuming peace talks. The Israeli government, which had agreed
to peace talks with no preconditions, submitted to the Palestinian
precondition, and talks are now likely to go forward.

Prime Minister Netanyahu had reportedly asked the Obama Administration to
make it easier for him to release Palestinian murderers by releasing
Jonathan Pollard, who has already served 28 years for spying for Israel. No
American in history has ever come close to serving that long—indeed none has
ever served a double digit sentence—for spying for an American ally.
Moreover, there were grave doubts about the lawfulness of Pollard’s
sentence, as evidenced by the strong words of the dissenting judge who
characterized the government’s breach of the plea agreement as a
“fundamental miscarriage of justice requiring relief…”

But the Obama Administration slammed the door in Netanyahu’s face by
categorically rejecting the request to commute Pollard’s sentence to the
excessive term he has already served. Despite this rebuff from the Obama
Administration, Netanyahu agreed to release the prisoners. Now the
Palestinian Authority is asking for more prisoners to be released including
some of the most dangerous terrorists on the face of the earth. The United
States will probably continue to put pressure on Israel to risk the lives of
its own civilians by releasing more Palestinian terrorists in order to get
the Palestinians to continue to negotiate.

The time has come—indeed it is well passed—for the United States to do the
right thing with regard to Jonathan Pollard. Pollard poses no continuing
danger to America, since he has not had access to our secrets for nearly 30
years. Unlike the Palestinian prisoners who are to be released, he has
expressed regret over his actions and has sought forgiveness. Moreover, his
life sentence is excessive by any standard of justice and it violated the
government’s plea bargain which promised, in exchange for Pollard’s guilty
plea, not to seek life imprisonment.

Peace between Israel and the Palestinians requires the active involvement of
the United States, as evidenced by Secretary John Kerry’s intensive efforts
to bring the parties together. But if peace is in our national interest, as
the Obama Administration insists it is, and if peace requires sacrifice by
both Israel and the Palestinians, then we too must be willing to give a
little. Releasing Jonathan Pollard after requiring him to serve 27 years,
some in solitary confinement, is not much of a sacrifice to ask of the
United States. It is the least we can do to make it easier for Israel to
make far greater sacrifices and take far more dangerous risks in order to
secure peace.

The request to release Pollard now has bipartisan support in the United
States and multi-partisan support in Israel. Knesset members on all sides
of the Israeli political spectrum have called for Pollard’s release as a way
of encouraging the peace process. “It’s a window of opportunity of good
will to Israeli, who are not going through an easy time,” said Labor MK
Nachman Shai. “It would build up public support for negotiations and show
that the US also understands the gravity of this historic moment.”
American political leaders from both sides of the aisle, as well as from all
religious backgrounds, have called for Pollard’s release on compassionate
grounds, based on the length of his sentence and his deteriorating physical

Israel will go forward with negotiations regardless of whether Pollard is
released, because the Israeli government wants a peaceful resolution that
assures security. But in the end the Israeli public will have to vote for
any deal struck between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, with the help
of American negotiators. The outcome of any such referendum will depend on
whether Israeli voters believe that their security has been assured and that
the United States continues to stand behind them. Releasing Jonathan
Pollard—as a gesture of good will, as a show of American support, and in the
interests of justice and compassion—will go a long way toward encouraging
the Israeli public to vote in favor of a peace agreement that requires great
sacrifices on their part.

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