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August 19, 2013 10:03 am

Israel’s New Strategy: Prisoners for ‘Peace’

avatar by Kevin Bermeister

President Barack Obama meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office in 2009. Photo: White House.

Did “land for peace” just give way to “prisoners for peace” in the sordid negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority?

Since the Oslo Accords, foreign efforts to tempt, cajole, and persuade Israel into a “peace” agreement focused on relinquishing land for peace. The present imposition could sideswipe previous efforts. Land remains an important tool in the negotiation, but it is harder to manage. Netanyahu cannot limit the expansion of settlements whilst retaining a coalition. Abbas doesn’t care, but demands a “concession” in response.

Using prisoners as the new political weapon of choice exposes the hopelessness of the latest round of peace talks. As this charade plays out on the world stage, it will appear farcical. Wielding America’s muscle to parade Netanyahu and Abbas in front of the American public is an Obama one-two-diplomacy-shuffle to win foreign policy and domestic support on other issues.

Netanyahu and Abbas agreed to the deal because they each get something from America in return. However, Abbas believes his Palestinian Authority must uphold the glory of Islamic terror against the State of Israel, and Netanyahu believes he must uphold the glory of Jews settling their land. Neither the release of prisoners nor the expansion of settlements appear to be a basis for peace talks that will lead to any practical outcome.

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The Arab Spring has complicated life for President Obama. And he hopes to use Mideast peace negotiations to offset his failings. But it won’t be to the benefit of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Abbas has backed himself into a corner, and had no choice but to agree to Washington’s demands for renewed talks. But Netanyahu destroyed his political future by bowing to Obama at a time when he could have changed the course of history forever.

The next Jewish leader of Israel will think twice and very hard before falling victim to the same foreign ploy of releasing terrorists. The 26 terrorists released are beginning to stir up significant Israeli emotions and fervor.

Therefore, Abbas’ next demand for a prisoner release will probably kill the peace process, as Netanyahu, or his coalition partners, decides he can’t carry out this obligation either on principal or because of strong opposition by the Israeli people. Doing so would turn the international community and Israelis against Netanyahu. Thus, these peace talks appear to be over before they even got started.

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