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Posts tagged ‘Palestinian prisoners in Israel’

Population Swap Idea Angers Israel’s Arab Minority.


TAYBEH, Israel — Israel’s powerful and outspoken Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has enraged the country’s Arab minority by proposing that some of its towns and villages be handed over to a future Palestine in exchange for parts of the West Bank where Jewish settlers live.

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The proposal, rejected by both Palestinians and other Israeli leaders, nonetheless has deepened Arab fears that they are not welcome in the Jewish state and leaves them in the awkward position of insisting on staying Israeli.

They say that their solidarity with their Palestinian brethren does not mean they are disloyal to their own country and should not be treated as second-class citizens.

“I didn’t come to Israel, Israel came to me. . . . They can’t take away my rights,” said Abdul Rahman Haj Yahiya, 79, an eighth-generation resident of Taybeh. “If Israelis can identify with Jews around the world, why can’t I identify with Arabs too?”

A town like Taybeh, home to some 40,000 people and only a mile away from the Palestinian-controlled West Bank, likely would be a prime target under Lieberman’s plan.

Lieberman, a leading voice in Israel’s so-called nationalist camp, has long been a skeptic of peace efforts with the Palestinians and is a frequent critic of Israel’s Arab minority.

His latest proposal appears to be aimed at complicating Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace efforts as much as it is at unnerving Israeli Arabs.

Israel’s Arabs make up about 20 percent of the country’s 8 million citizens. They descend from those who decided to stay in the country upon Israel’s establishment in 1948, in contrast to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled or were driven away.

While they freely identify with their Palestinian counterparts, there are also key differences. They have become fluent in Hebrew. Although they generally suffer from second-class status in Israel, they hold full citizenship rights and enjoy a higher standard of living and more civil liberties than in other Arab countries — a reality they say they are loath to swap for life under Palestinian rule.

At the same time, Arabs do not serve in the military like Jewish citizens. With many siding openly with the Palestinians — and a small number even charged with spying for Israel’s enemies — they have also drawn accusations of being a disloyal fifth column.

Lieberman’s hard-line nationalist party, Yisrael Beitenu, or “Israel is our Home,” has long called for aggressive action and pushed for legislation that would have required a loyalty oath to Israel as a Jewish state and stripping citizenship to those who refuse.

The Palestinians seek a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war, but would accept minor land swaps to allow Israel to keep some Jewish settlements blocs. Lieberman unveiled his swap idea this week.

Lieberman said no one would be uprooted from their homes. Instead, the border would merely be adjusted to place Arab towns inside Palestinian territory. He also said he would not support any peace agreement brokered by Kerry that does not include his demand.

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s most important political partner, Lieberman has enough sway to bring down the governing coalition, a scenario that would throw peace talks into disarray. Dovish opposition parties have said they would fill any void left by defecting hard-liners, though it remains unclear whether their support would be enough.

Lieberman’s plan has been roundly rejected by Palestinians, Israeli Arabs and even mainstream Israelis. It also faces many challenges under international law.

While there is a precedent for citizens being swapped between countries following World War II, the only way for it to happen today would require a mutual agreement between two sovereign nations, an endorsement from the international community and the agreement of the citizens themselves, said Emmanuel Gross, a legal expert at Haifa University.

“You can’t draw a border that harms your own citizens and it can’t be done unilaterally,” Gross said.

Arab lawmaker Ahmad Tibi said the mere suggestion of such a plan reeked of racism and discrimination. “Citizens are not chess pieces to be moved around at will and this just heightens our sense of estrangement from the state,” he said.

Tibi, a Taybeh resident and former adviser to Yasser Arafat, said he has been assured by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the issue has not some up in peace talks and would be immediately rejected if it did.

Mohammad al-Madani, a member of Abbas’ Fatah party, said that while the movement represents Palestinians all over the world, Israeli Arabs were “a special case.”

“They are citizens of Israel and stayed in their historical home land and no one has the right to change their reality,” he said. “The right wing Israeli wants to get rid of those people just because they are Arabs.”

Israeli President Shimon Peres has rejected the plan, as has Interior Minister Gideon Saar, a stalwart in the ruling Likud Party, and others in Israel’s national camp. Neither Netanyahu nor Kerry has commented publicly on the plan.

In Taybeh, it is hard to find anyone open to the concept. The streets of this middle-class town are lined with shops and mosques just like any Arab village. Graffiti bearing the Palestinian flag can be found easily.

But highlighting its duality it is also deeply influenced by a proximity to nearby Jewish towns, whose residents frequent Taybeh’s stores, auto shops and restaurants.

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“You can’t uproot someone from their home. I was born here. I am Israeli,” said Nasser Saadat, 36. “We live with our Jewish neighbors, just like the Prophet Muhammad did. How can we go to another country?”

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.c

Nearly 50 Percent of Freed Palestinian Terrorists Return to Fight.


Although nearly half of the 13,000 terrorists Israel has released since 1985 have returned to the battlefield, Secretary of State John Kerry is pushing Israel to free more imprisoned militants in the hope of bolstering Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, Israel Hayom reported.
Israeli authorities say the high terrorist recidivism rate is because many of those released have long had a strong ideological belief in violence, and that this is reinforced by a culture of officially sanctioned anti-Israel incitement in both the West Bank and Gaza.
Earlier this month, for example, terrorists convicted of murdering Israelis received certificates of citation at a cultural event hosted by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.They were released from prison several months ago, according to veteran Israeli journalist Nadav Shragai, author of the Israel Hayom piece.

Footage of the event depicts a gun battle in which members of Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah organization unite to kill a group of “Israelis” opposing them.
Many Israelis who oppose further prisoner releases cite the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner deal in which a kidnapped Israeli soldier was freed in exchange for about 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.
During the last two years, Israel’s Shin Bet security agency has intercepted at least 80 attempted terrorist attacks in the West Bank that were masterminded by Gaza-based Hamas operatives freed in the Shalit deal.
One individual involved in these operations was Omar Abu-Sneina,  who mailed a computer disk drive from Gaza to his family in the West Bank with detailed instructions on carrying out a kidnapping.
The Shin Bet intercepted the mailing.
Even as Washington has urged Israel to free additional prisoners with Israeli blood on their hands, it unsuccessfully opposed the Israeli government’s decision to release Othman Omar Mustafa, a Palestinian convicted of the 1989 murder of Frederick Steven Rosenfeld, a former Marine and U.S. citizen, according to Israel Hayom.

Rosenfeld was stabbed to death by Mustafa and two other men who befriended him as he hiked near the West Bank settlement of Ariel, the Daily Beast reported.

Related Story:

© 2013 NewsmaxWorld. All rights reserved.

By Joel Himelfarb

Manhunt Underway After Israeli Soldier Killed in West Bank Shooting.


JERUSALEM — Israeli troops were on Monday hunting for a suspected Palestinian gunman who shot a soldier dead in Hebron, days after another Palestinian killed a soldier in a separate incident.

The killings have sparked questions over the fate of peace talks relaunched last month after a three-year hiatus, with Israeli ministers calling on the government to reconsider its involvement in negotiations with the Palestinians.

The United States condemned both attacks, which it said “undermine efforts to establish the positive atmosphere the parties need to progress in peace negotiation.”

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The Israeli military said on Sunday that a soldier died in hospital after sustaining gunshot wounds in the southern West Bank city Hebron, later identifying him as 20-year-old Sergeant Gabriel Koby from Tirat Hacarmel in northern Israel.

Israeli police had earlier said the soldier had been shot, “probably by terrorists,” although the gunman had fled the scene, sparking a massive manhunt in Hebron.

A military spokeswoman told AFP on Monday that most of the roadblocks that had been used to seal off the city the previous night were removed by the morning and the army was continuing searches in a “more specific” manner.

The spokeswoman noted the army had apprehended two Palestinians for holding hunting rifles, but said they were not connected to the Sunday incident.

The shooting took place close to the volatile Cave of the Patriarchs, which is considered holy to both Jews and Muslims, during the week-long Jewish holiday of Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles, which began on Thursday and has seen thousands of Jewish visitors to the biblical city.

On Saturday, Israel discovered the body of Tomer Hazan, a 20-year-old soldier who had been lured to a village in the northern West Bank on Friday and killed by a Palestinian man with whom he had worked in a seaside town near Tel Aviv.

Army spokesman Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai ruled out a link between the two killings and rebuffed suggestions they indicated a deterioration in Israel’s security situation.

“We see these as isolated incidents,” Mordechai said in a statement, “not as a new trend.”

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon announced he would be holding consultations Monday with members of the security establishment.

Senior Cabinet minister Naftali Bennett said the two attacks should push Israel to reconsider its involvement in peace talks with the Palestinians.

“Under the auspices of negotiation celebrations, Sukkot has turned into a festival of bloodshed and harm to Israeli soldiers,” he said in a letter sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“There is no doubt that there have been unfortunate developments since the start of the negotiations which require the government to reconsider its path,” he wrote.

And Transportation Minister Israel Katz, of Netanyahu’s Likud party, slammed the Palestinian Authority for not condemning the two killings and called for a halt to the planned release of a second batch of Palestinian prisoners, after Israel set 26 free ahead of talks last month.

“Another group [of Palestinian prisoners] is about to be released,” he said in a statement. “Now is the time to stop.”

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© AFP 2013
Source: NEWSmax.com

Why Peacemaking Can Be Painful.


Israeli protester
An activist with her left hand covered in red paint shouts slogans during a protest against the Israeli government’s plan to free Palestinian prisoners, in Tel Aviv August 12, 2013 (Nir Elias/Reuters)

I was in Washington, D.C., last week when reports on the arrival of a group of other Israelis in the U.S. capitol made front-page news. While I was warmly received by a wide array of people, including journalists at CBN and leaders from the National Religious broadcasters, my trip was not the focus of the media’s attention.

Rather, it was a team of high-level negotiators from Israel to sit face to face with a parallel group of Palestinians, the first time in years that Israel and the Palestinians actually sat down together face to face formally to try to overcome the differences and even broach the idea of making peace.

Despite my trip not being in the news, my presence was a catalyst for seeking my thoughts, comments and observations about the news among those with a heart for Israel.

I share the prayer and hope of most Israelis that one day we will actually have peace with our neighbors, and I know for a certainty that most Israelis will be ready to make painful concessions if the possibility of peace were actually in reach. Yet I, like many Israelis, don’t see too much reason for hope in the short term.

One of the most challenging parts of the negation, just to return to negotiations, is Israel’s agreeing to release 104 hardcore terrorists, many imprisoned for decades for murdering and maiming other Israelis. Doing so has opened old wounds and renewed the pain and grief of the families of the many victims of these terrorists who will now go free, and who will receive a hero’s welcome when they go home, celebrating their murderous acts of Palestinian nationalism.

It’s perverse that Israel is releasing these terrorists in order to coax the Palestinians back to talk with us about making peace. As painful as this is, one could make the case for doing so in the implementation of a final peace agreement.

However simply to release terrorists to get the Palestinians to agree to talk about peace makes a mockery of Israel’s deep sense of justice. The arrest, trial and imprisonment of these terrorists for serious crimes was all done under Israeli law, yet now they are being set free. One would think that if the Palestinians really want peace and to live side by side with Israel, they would do everything and anything possible to resolve differences, rather than wait years to negotiate terms just to talk about making peace.

Releasing hardened terrorists also sends chills up the spine of any parent of a young man or woman currently serving in the IDF, or who will serve, as it weakens operations to track down and arrest other terrorists, whether after the fact, or based on intelligence that they are about to act. These operations are done at considerable risk to the elite forces who carry them out as well as those, often Arabs, who provide the necessary intelligence.

Not only does the threat of arrest, or serving a full sentence once arrested, not serve to discourage people from joining the terrorists, it may outright encourage further acts of terrorism as the perpetrators may rightly look at Israel with little fear or consequence of their actions, or actually assess that the “penalty” is well worth the crime, if caught.

Certainly, it’s possible that any of these could consider serving 10-20 years in a comfortable Israeli prison with cable, three halal meals, air conditioning, and the ability to study toward an advanced degree as being well worth it, even an incentive to go ahead and kill a few Israelis.

Of course, just by being an Israeli in D.C. does not give me any unique insight into what was and has been taking place behind the scenes to get to this place. It’s a very uneasy situation and one about which I don’t know too many people who are happy. Speculation is rife with ideas that Israel had to bend to the U.S. in order to demonstrate that it was really trying so that when the time comes to act on Iran, the U.S. will do the right thing.

Everyone understands that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is a weak leader who governs with little legitimacy (his term as president ended years ago but there have not been any elections since, so he sits in his office with no constitutional legitimacy), and one who probably looks over his shoulder all the time as his Hamas brothers threaten to do to him what is happening in Syria and Egypt. By tossing Abbas this bone, the theory goes he could have the standing to be so bold as to actually negotiate peace with Israel, which many Palestinians oppose and many Israelis don’t see him able to uphold.

There is a hope that in the context of Israel releasing these Arab prisoners, as part of this deal President Obama will do the right thing and pardon Jonathan Pollard, an Israeli American serving a sentence so far in excess of what others convicted of serious crimes, it’s hard not to imagine anti-Semitism playing a role. While Palestinian terrorists’ release is legitimately a mockery of justice, so too is Pollard’s continued imprisonment. Pollard’s release could certainly give Prime Minister Netanyahu something to show in response to the mounting protests against the terrorists’ release.

Whatever may come, I pray that the God of Israel, whose covenant with Abraham grants Israel more legitimacy than most if not all modern nation states today, will grant wisdom to do the right thing.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ STANDING WITH ISRAEL.

JONATHAN FELDSTEIN

Jonathan Feldstein is the director of Heart to Heart, a unique virtual blood donation program to bless Israel and save lives in Israel. Born and educated in the U.S., Feldstein emigrated to Israel in 2004. He is married and the father of six. Throughout his life and career, he has been blessed by the calling to fellowship with Christian supporters of Israel and shares experiences of living as an Orthodox Jew in Israel.

Family Member: ‘They Will Dance on the Blood of Our Children’.


Israeli protesters
A woman holds an Israeli flag stained with red paint during a protest against the government’s plan to free Palestinian prisoners, in Tel Aviv, August 12, 2013. On Monday, Israel named 26 Palestinian prisoners to be freed this week under a deal enabling U.S.-backed peace talks to resume, although Palestinians said these had been undermined by newly announced plans to expand Israeli settlements. (Nir Elias/Reuters)

Despite widespread public criticism and emotional pleas by bereaved families, 26 out of 104 Palestinian prisoners slated for early release will board buses and be taken to freedom under heavy security on Tuesday night.

The release of the 26 prisoners, who were all jailed for security-related crimes before the signing of the Oslo Accords in the mid-1990s, comprises the first of four stages of the prisoner release to which Israel agreed before the recent U.S.-brokered resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians.

The buses taking the prisoners out of Israel to Gaza or Judea and Samaria will be heavily secured by Israel Prison Service vehicles. Twelve prisoners will be dropped off at the Erez checkpoint en route to Gaza, while the remaining 14 prisoners will be dropped off at the Beitunia checkpoint to return to their homes in Judea and Samaria.

On Monday, as the names of the 26 prisoners were finalized, the Israel Prison Service gave them final medical examinations in the presence of Red Cross representatives.

President Shimon Peres was expected to sign the pardons of several of the prisoners by the end of the day. In accordance with the government decision, Peres was to sign pardons for prisoners who were tried by military courts in Gaza or in civilian courts in Israel. The prisoners tried in other military courts will be pardoned by the defense minister or the general officer commanding-in-chief central command.

As the prisoners were undergoing the final stages of their release, dozens of Israelis, many of them relatives of the victims of terror attacks perpetrated by the men slated for early release, demonstrated at the Defense Ministry building in Tel Aviv. The protesters dipped their hands in red paint to symbolize the blood on the terrorists’ hands, waved signs reading “Have we gone mad? We don’t release murderers,” and carried photos of their deceased loved ones. They also yelled out slogans such as “For every terrorist released, another Israeli child will die,” and one demonstrator even read the traditional Kaddish mourning prayer over the future deaths of Israelis who would “fall victim to the government’s cowardice,” as he put it.

‘A Death Sentence to All Terrorists’

“They are going to release my son’s murderers,” cried out Miriam Tubol, whose son, Lior, was kidnapped and murdered in Jerusalem in 1990. “To me, this is not a government. They are traitors. They will celebrate and dance on the blood of our children.”

Oded Karamani, whose brother Ronen was killed in the same attack that took Lior Tubol’s life, said, “They are killing our loved ones a second time. Our wound has been reopened; our hearts are bleeding. For me, this is tantamount to confirming the murder of a brother.”

MK Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi), who attended the demonstration, called on the state to sentence terrorists to death.

“It is an embarrassment that a sovereign state is releasing murderers in exchange for nothing,” she said.

Dr. Gila Molcho, whose brother, Ian Feinberg, was murdered in Gaza in 1990, could not stop her tears.

“It is to open our wounds in the cruelest way possible,” she said. “The message we are communicating is that my brother’s memory and his blood are being given away as a gesture. It doesn’t make sense that we are giving all that just so that they [the Palestinians] will sit down to talk to us. In the case of Gilad Schalit [the Israeli soldier whose release from Hamas captivity was secured in 2011 in exchange for the rleease of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners], I closed my ears, shuttered my heart and said that even if I pay a personal price, it is worth it—the freedom of a soldier. This time, I can’t keep my mouth shut.”

Within the government, harsh criticism of the release could also be heard. Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi) said Monday, “Terrorists belong in prison. Otherwise the state is simply mocking its own legal system, which sentenced these killers to long jail terms. The terrorists slated to be released have murdered women and children, and I don’t understand how releasing murderers can advance peace.”

The families of the victims also asked the High Court of Justice to issue an injunction to postpone the release until the court addressed their petition to prevent the release altogether. The court reviewed the petition three days ago and on Tuesday issued a ruling rejecting the appeal, clearing the way for the release later in the day.

“Our hearts are with the families of the victims of the terror attacks. Their pain is enormous, and we do not have the tools to heal it,” the justices wrote in their ruling. “The decision to free the prisoners, specifically the prisoners serving out long sentences for serious crimes, is a very difficult decision.”

“We are convinced that the authorized bodies made this decision with a heavy heart, taking the pain and standpoints of the bereaved families into consideration,” they wrote. “We didn’t find any flaws with the government’s decision.”

For the original article, visit israelhayom.com.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ STANDING WITH ISRAEL.

Poll: 80 Percent of Israeli Jews Say Peace Impossible.


JERUSALEM — Almost 80 percent of Israeli Jews believe a peace deal with the Palestinians is impossible, an opinion poll found on Friday, two days after the resumption of negotiations in Jerusalem.

Asked whether “this time, we will reach a final agreement that will put an end to the conflict,” 79.7 percent of respondents said no, and just 6.2 percent said yes.

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Another 14.1 percent expressed no opinion.

The survey, published in right-wing free sheet Israel Hayom, was carried out by Israeli research institute Hagal Hahadash among a representative sample of 500 Israeli Jews.

Asked about the government’s decision to release long-serving Palestinian prisoners alongside the resumed peace talks, 77.5 percent of respondents said they opposed it and just 14.2 percent said they were in favor.

Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners on Wednesday hours before the Jerusalem talks, the first of 104 prisoners slated for release in stages depending on progress in the negotiations.

A full 62.9 percent of respondents said they would rather the government announced a freeze on Jewish settlement construction than release prisoners, many of whom were convicted of murder.

In the run-up to Wednesday’s talks, Israel authorized more than 2,000 new settler homes in annexed east Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank.

The last peace talks, in September 2010, broke down over the issue of settlements, which has this time again incensed Palestinian negotiators.

© AFP 2013

Source: NEWSmax.com

Peace Talks to Resume as Israel Frees Palestinians, Pursues Settlements.


Image: Peace Talks to Resume as Israel Frees Palestinians, Pursues Settlements

Freed Palestinian prisoners arrive near Erez crossing, between Israel and northern Gaza Strip, early on Aug. 14.

JERUSALEM/RAMALLAH, West Bank — Israel freed 26 Palestinian prisoners on Wednesday to keep U.S.-sponsored peacemaking on course for a second round of talks, but diplomacy was dogged by Israeli plans for more Jewish homes on occupied land the Palestinians claim for a future state.Negotiators are due to convene with little fanfare later on Wednesday in Jerusalem, the holy city at the heart of the decades-old conflict of turf and faith. The envoys held first talks in Washington last month, ending a three-year stand-off.

Paving the way for the continuation of negotiations, Israel released an initial number of Palestinians serving long jail terms, many for deadly attacks on Israelis, busing them in the dead of night to the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

They were welcomed by hundreds of Palestinians including President Mahmoud Abbas, who kissed some of the men and flashed victory signs.

“We congratulate ourselves and our families for our brothers who left the darkness of the prisons for the light of the sun of freedom. We say to them and to you that the remainder are on their way, these are just the first,” Abbas told the crowd in the West Bank capital of Ramallah, where 11 ex-prisoners arrived.

The other 15 went to Gaza, a territory under the control of Abbas’ Islamist Hamas rivals, and were received by relatives who set off fireworks and shot guns into the air in celebration.

“I never expected to see him again. My feelings cannot be described in words, the joy of the whole world is with me,” said Adel Mesleh, whose brother Salama Mesleh was jailed in 1993 for killing an Israeli. “I am happy he was freed as a result of negotiations. Negotiations are good.”

Despite anger from the families of some victims, Israel has promised to free a total 104 inmates in the coming months.

Negotiations are set to continue every few weeks in venues including Jericho in the occupied West Bank, in pursuit of Secretary of State John Kerry‘s goal of a deal in nine months.

Israel says it supports this timeline but in the past few days has rattled world powers by announcing plans to increase its settlement of the West Bank and east Jerusalem, where, along with the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians seek statehood.

DIEHARD DILEMMAS

Few see swift resolution to longstanding problems such as borders, settlements, the status of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees. Yet neither Abbas nor Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants blame for putting brakes on the U.S. peace bid.

Violence simmered overnight, with the Israeli military bombing what it described as rocket silos in Gaza in retaliation for a rocket launch into Israel. There were no casualties.

Israel quit Gaza in 2005 but wants to keep east Jerusalem and swathes of West Bank settlements, seeing them as a security bulwark and the realization of a Jewish birthright to biblical land. Most world powers deem the settlements illegal.

Nearly 600,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, among 2.5 million Palestinians. Israel has published plans for 3,100 new settler homes in recent days.

Speaking to reporters in Brazil on Tuesday, Kerry said he had a “very frank and open, direct discussion” in a phone call with Netanyahu.

Kerry appeared to associate the new settlement announcements with internal Israeli politics, saying “there are realities of life in Israel that have to be taken into account here.”

Such construction helps mollify pro-settler factions in Netanyahu’s rightist coalition government, one of which, the Jewish Home party, opposes Palestinian statehood and tried unsuccessfully to vote down the prisoner release.

Thousands of Palestinians remain in Israeli jails, hailed as heroes by their countrymen while Israel brands them terrorists.

The 104 prisoners had been vetted for release by Yaakov Peri, an Israeli cabinet minister who said on Wednesday that in his former career in the Shin Bet security service he had been involved in capturing and convicting 92 of them.

“This is part of the price of pursuing peace with our neighbors,” Peri told Israel’s Army Radio. “The ramifications of not returning to the negotiating table are dozens of times weightier than releasing the prisoners.”

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: NEWSmax.com

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