Israel Frees Palestinians in US-Brokered Deal
PM Netanyahu takes heat from political right and left alike
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 30, 2013 6:34 PM CST
Palestinian woman wait for the release of prisoners at the checkpoint at the entrance of Beit Hanoun between north of Gaza Strip and Israel, Monday, Dec. 30, 2013.   (Hatem Moussa)

(Newser) – Israel has released more than two dozen Palestinian prisoners convicted in deadly attacks against Israelis as part of a US-brokered package to restart Mideast peace talks. After departing on buses from Israeli jails overnight, the prisoners received hero's welcomes upon their return to the West Bank and Gaza with officials and jubilant relatives lining up to greet them. At his headquarters in Ramallah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas waited to meet the men in the middle of the night. Speaking before thousands, he pledged to continue pressing for the release of long-serving and ill prisoners. "We will not sign a final peace deal with Israel before all the prisoners are released," he said.

In Israel, though, the release was accompanied by great anger and frustration with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu facing a public uproar from all directions over the move. With Netanyahu expected to accompany the releases with plans to build hundreds of new homes in Jewish settlements, the criticism came from some unlikely quarters. Dovish supporters of peace talks said the expected construction would destroy any goodwill created by the prisoner release, while hard-line allies criticized Netanyahu for linking the Jewish settlement cause with the release of prisoners convicted in connection with killings, mostly of Israelis. "Leadership is judged by the ability to implement decisions, difficult as they may be," Netanyahu told members of his Likud Party. "We were not elected to make easy decisions."

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Showing 3 of 53 comments
jgarbuz
Dec 31, 2013 11:42 PM CST
There are millions of Jewish refugees from Arab countries living today in Israel and nobody talks about them and their sufferings. And that is because tiny Israel has pained to absorb these millions of Jewish refugees into that tiny sliver of land whereas the 21 Arab countries have done nothing but keep the descendents of the 700,000 original refugees in camps and now they number some 5 million. In fact, the number of Arabs who claim to be "Palestinians" increased tenfold since 1948, from 1.2 million to nearly 12 million today. I do not shed one tear of pity for any of them. They tried to push the Holocaust survivors into the sea in '48, but instead of being massacred en masse after failing to do so, they were allowed to escape to breed and terrorize Jews ever since. It's the duty of the Arab countries to give them citizenship, homes and jobs. Israel bears no responsibility for those who tried to murder the Holocaust survivors coming home to their ancestral homeland.
D-30047
Dec 31, 2013 1:12 PM CST
Alright Rocky, you like books and articles and history and smart quotes from smart people?? Here's a quote . . . maybe you've read it? There are over 4 million Palestinian refugees in the Middle East and nearly 70 per cent of all Palestinians are refugees. The mini-holocaust (Palestinian Nakba, or catastrophe in Arabic) and the exiling of hundreds of thousands of indigenous people which took place with the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 ... is one of the great war crimes of the twentieth century. (Masalha 2007: 1) Does this not count as a real book? Is its author not a real one? Have I taken something out of context? I'm sure you have something to counter justifying the treatment of these people?
D-30047
Dec 31, 2013 12:11 PM CST
Rocky, this failed to make it on 20/20: A 15-year-old Palestinian boy apparently shot in the back as he ran away from Israeli soldiers was the victim of a "cold-blooded assassination" that damages the already faltering Middle East process, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority (PA) leader has said. Wajih Wajdi al-Ramahi was shot outside Jalazoun refugee camp, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, eye-witnesses said. He was taken to hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.