Palestinian women hold pictures of jailed relatives during a protest marking “Palestinian Prisoners Day” in the West Bank town of Ramallah, April 17, 2007. (photo by REUTERS/Oleg Popov)
Jonathan Pollard should be released on humanitarian grounds, but the release of prominent Fatah member Marwan Barghouti could resuscitate negotiations with the Palestinians.
It happened about 20 years ago. Morris Pollard, Jonathan Pollard’s father, called my home in Washington. Unlike other relatives and public figures who fought for the release of his son, Morris never complained about anyone. He never protested that the government of Israel wasn’t doing enough to bring about Jonathan’s release and didn’t even claim that his son risked his life on behalf of Israel’s security. In a sad voice and a restrained tone, the prisoner’s father shared with me the deep pain that he felt and asked if I had any advice. I recalled that conversation with sadness when I heard three years ago that Morris had passed away at the age of 95, without seeing his son released from his prison cell.
Jonathan Pollard betrayed his country, but as late US Ambassador to Israel Samuel Lewis told Amir Tibon of Walla! in January, 28 years in prison is more than enough time served. Even vindictiveness needs boundaries. Another year or two in prison will neither increase nor decrease the deterrent effect of his imprisonment on other potential traitors and spies. At the same time, the removal of the name Pollard from its agenda will free the American Jewish community from an affair that cast a heavy shadow over its loyalty to its country. A miserable individual like Pollard, whose physical and mental health is deteriorating by the day, should have already been sent home, regardless of the difficult state of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
In the same article, retired senior diplomat Thomas Pickering also expressed his opinion about Pollard’s release. The former undersecretary of state and ambassador to Israel and the UN said, “Diplomats have to take challenges and turn them into opportunities.” He also declared, “Achieving a framework agreement is far more important than the continuation of Pollard’s incarceration.” Pickering was absolutely right. Still, it seems that the idea that Pollard’s release will pave the way for the much longed-for framework agreement is little more than wishful thinking. Believing that Pollard’s release will change the rules of the game in the diplomatic process is a lot like using cupping therapy on the dead. What was depicted as a weapon that the Americans held back in case of emergency could, at best, extend the agony of the negotiations by a few more months.
Pollard’s arrest was not directly related to the conflict, and his release will not help end it and promote reconciliation between the two rivals. Actually, the contrary is true. The case of the prisoner is completely different from that of freedom fighters like South Africa’s late President Nelson Mandela, whose release was a formative event in that reconciliation process.
The day after his release, Pollard will likely become a key figure in the political right’s struggle against a two-state solution and its campaign of incitement against the Barack Obama administration. The American Jewish spy has become a hero to the settlers. He has even been honored with the naming of an illegally occupied building in the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem: “Jonathan’s House.” It is no coincidence that Pollard was quick to announce that if his release is part of a deal that leads to the release of Palestinian prisoners convicted of killing Israelis, he will forego his right to appeal to the US prison system’s parole board.
If, as Pickering says, US Secretary of State John Kerry is prepared to turn this challenge into an opportunity to advance peace, he will find the right person on the Israel Prison Authority’s list of security prisoners. His name is Marwan Barghouti, and he is the most popular Palestinian leader in the occupied territories. Since April 2002, he has been serving five life sentences in Israel for the murder of Israelis in a series of attacks for which he was held responsible as head of Tanzim, the militant faction of the Palestinian Fatah movement in the West Bank. At present, the leaders of Fatah and Hamas are competing among themselves over the privilege of bringing about his release in a prisoner exchange with Israel.
It is not only hard-core leftists like Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On who believe that Barghouti’s release could change the balance of power in the territories in favor of the peace camp. In a September 2007 interview by Mazal Mualem for Haaretz, Binyamin (Fouad) Ben Eliezer of the Labor Party, who was privy to classified intelligence information when he served as defense minister, said that Barghouti was influencing everything that was happening in the Palestinian Authority from his prison cell and that he was the only person with the power to “make Hamas knuckle under.”
Many people within the professional ranks of the security apparatus share the assessment of Ben Eliezer. They also believe that Barghouti will be the next leader of the Palestinians and that he is a real partner for a diplomatic breakthrough. “We have nothing to lose,” said Eliezer, who is now a presidential candidate. “We’ve been running around in circles. … We have to look for some creative approach.”
Adding Barghouti to the list of prisoners who will be returning home in the next wave of releases will provide an inestimable boost to the stature of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, especially in his struggles with his opponents in Fatah and the Hamas leadership. A picture taken together with the man who was once one of the most outspoken supporters of the Oslo Accord could help Abbas overcome the settlement obstacle and remain at the negotiating table. At the same time, Pollard’s release might enable Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to overcome the obstacle posed by the release of Palestinian prisoners who are citizens of Israel without seeing his right-wing coalition slip out of his hands.
By ALAN ROSENBAUM
“We are a government agency with a start-up soul,” says Hagai Dror, managing director of HealthCare Israel, one of the three winners of the 2019 InnoDip Award for innovative diplomacy. The award, established by the Abba Eban Institute for International Diplomacy at the IDC Herzliya, will be presented at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference on Thursday, November 21 in Jerusalem.
Healthcare Israel was created by Israel’s Ministry of Health in 2016 to deliver life-saving and cost-saving healthcare innovation, technology and expertise to the world, and promotes cooperation and Israeli health system exports through collaborations between government, the health system and the healthcare industry. It has leveraged Israel’s existing diplomatic ecosystem to reach out and create new kinds of international cooperation projects and business deals specifically in the healthcare space.
By YAAKOV KATZ
U.S. Ambassador Friedman to ‘Post’: New policy advances the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace • PM: Policy rights a historical wrong
In a historic reversal of US policy, the Trump administration announced on Monday that it does not view Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal. The policy change was announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington.
“After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate, this administration agrees with president Reagan,” Pompeo said in reference to Ronald Reagan’s position that settlements were not inherently illegal. “The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law.”
Leftist students verbally abused and ransacked tables belong to conservative students
Binghamton University’s downtown campus in New York.
A New York State assemblyman has slammed Binghamton University for the way it has handled a group of leftist students who verbally abused and ransacked tables belonging to the campus College Republicans group.
The conservative students were handing out flyers for an upcoming talk by well-known economist Dr. Arthur Laffer when the incident occurred on Thursday.
A view of the Yehudit Bridge and the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv, Feb. 17, 2019. Photo
CTech – Tel Aviv will officially launch its free weekend transportation service this Friday, the city announced Tuesday. In collaboration with neighboring towns Givatayim, Ramat Hasharon, and Kiryat Ono, Tel Aviv will operate six routes covering over 300 kilometers. Minivans will pick up and drop off passengers at over 500 stops across the metropolitan area at a frequency of once every 30 minutes between 6 pm on Friday and 2 am on Saturday, and between 9 am and 5 pm on Saturday.
Tel Aviv has long awaited a solution for transportation during Shabbat and other Jewish holidays. The principle of the “status quo”—a guideline which dictates maintaining the common practice when it comes to the fundamentals of Jewish Orthodoxy, especially Shabbat observance—effectively prevents the state from offering public transportation services on Shabbat, but since Tel Aviv’s service is free, it does not currently fall under the legal definition of public transportation.
A police car in the German capital of
An elderly man has been viciously beaten up in broad daylight on a Berlin street by a youth who showered him with antisemitic abuse.
According to the BZ online news outlet, the 76-year-old pensioner was walking along the Berliner Strasse in the Pankow district of the German capital at 9 a.m. on Monday when his passage was blocked by a 16-year-old youth and four of his friends.
Oct 25, 2019 0People arrive at a polling station to vote in the federal election in Beauce, Quebec, Canada, Oct. 21, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Mathieu Belanger. A top Jewish advocacy group said on Friday it...
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