Click photo to download. Caption: On July 28, relatives of Israelis killed in terror attacks hold signs as they demonstrate outside of the Prime Minister’s Office ahead of the Israeli cabinet vote on the proposal to free 104 terrorist prisoners for the restarting of Israel-Palestinian conflict talks. The prisoner release proposal passed in a 13-7 vote. Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Aug. 13 marks the first phase of the controversial
release of 104 Palestinian terrorist prisoners that Israel agreed to as a
goodwill gesture for the restarting of Israeli-Palestinian conflict
negotiations. The terrorists, 26 of whom are being released in the first phase,
were all imprisoned before the signing of 1993 Oslo Accords and are “heavyweight prisoners
who have been in jail for dozens of years,” Israeli Minister of Strategic
Affair Yuval Steinitz has said.
But while the Palestinian terrorists will
initially earn their freedom in this deal, efforts are underway in the U.S. to
bring about the further prosecution of those terrorists whose attacks harmed
American citizens in Israel.
support of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), a pro-Israel think tank
and lobby group based in Washington, DC, U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) is urging
the Department of Justice (DOJ) to work closely with the Israeli government to
ensure that no terrorists who have killed or harmed Americans be included in
the prisoner release deal.
In an advance
copy of a letter being circulated in Congress that was provided to JNS.org, Salmon calls on the DOJ to
“immediately intercede in this most recent prisoner release proposal and
contact the government of Israel and request that they not release any
terrorist who have killed or harmed Americans.”
if the Israeli government does release any terrorists, Salmon strongly urges
the DOJ to prosecute them under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1990–which stipulates
that whenever an American is killed anywhere around the world, the U.S. has a
right to bring the terrorist to the U.S. to stand justice. Enforcement is through
the DOJ’s Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OJVOT), which
was created in 2005 to “ensure that the investigation and prosecution of
terrorist attacks against American citizens overseas remain a high priority,”
according to the OJVOT website.
draws on precedent in his letter. He notes that in the Gilad Shalit prisoner
swap deal in 2011, which released 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for
Shalit’s freedom after more than five years in Hamas captivity, “approximately 20
of those released had been involved in terrorist acts where an American citizen
At the time of
the Shalit prisoner swap, a number of legislators–including U.S. Sen. Jim
Inhofe (R-OK), former U.S. Reps. Joe Walsh (R-IL)
and Howard Berman (D-CA), and 52 other members of Congress–wrote to U.S.
Attorney General Eric Holder on the matter, urging him to prosecute the …read more