By Alan M. Dershowitz — The Jerusalem Post — July 30, 2013
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 …read more