For the next 10 days, your humble servant will be in various locations in the Middle East and beyond with little or no internet accessibility. Updates and blogs will appear as possible. I appreciate your indulgence.
UPDATES 9:00 am Israel time, Sunday, July 28 2013:
*After yesterday’s army confrontation with pro-Morsi Muslim Brotherhood protesters, it is anyone’s guess whether a civil war has broken out. How many were killed is unknown with the number apparently ranging between 34 (the Army figure) and more than 200 (the Muslim Brotherhood figure). Deposed President Morsi has been carted off to prison–the same prison currently holding Hosni Mubarak–and stands accused of various crimes including murder.
Interestingly, the Egyptian army has apparently begun its Sinai campaign this morning in an attempt to root out Islamist (read “Hamas”) terrorists.
*Speaking of Hamas terrorists, an attempted infiltration was stopped at the Gaza Border fence this morning by an IDF patrol.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet is meeting today to vote on transforming the current Referendum Law into a Basic Law, and to vote on releasing 103 Palestinian terrorist murderers from Israeli prisons.
The original number was supposed to be 82, but in the last twenty four hours Netanyahu has caved in yet again, and agreed to release Israeli-Arabs and Arabs from the eastern part of Jerusalem.
The current analysis is that out of 22 cabinet ministers, 10 are in favor of the terrorist release (led by Ntenyahu, Tzipi Livni, and Yair Lapid), 4 are opposed, and 8 are undecided. Apparently Netanyahu is working frantically to persuade the 8 to vote with him.
Why does Israel “have to” release these murderers? Because if we don’t, the unelected head of the Palestinian Authority and the Chairman of the PLO, Mahmoud Abbas, and his minions will not show up in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. At least that is what the Obama Administration and Benjamin Netanyahu would lead us to understand.
Can you believe this sorry state of affairs?
Most Israelis cannot. A poll out this morning shows that 85% of Israelis disapprove of the release of these terrorists.
To counter this intense public disapproval, Netanyahu has published a bizarrely flatulent “Open Letter To the Israeli People” this morning in which, among other things:
*he pats himself on the back for realizing what is important for the country–because the Israeli people cannot.
*he suggests that solving the Palestinian problem will somehow allow Israel to take advantage of opportunities with Egypt (have you seen the photos of the killing in Cairo yesterday?), Syria (have you read about the latest atrocities in Aleppo and Homs?), and Iran.
*he baldly lies about freezing the “settlements.”
*he devolves into a self-serving, pathetic description of his “incomparably difficult decision” to release murderers.
*he seems to suggest that the depraved terrorists he is releasing deserve some consideration because they have been in prison for more than 20 years.
*he dredges up the name of Gilad Shalit to justify the terrorists’ release–even though there is no comparison to be made: we are getting nothing in return.
*he then pats himself again on the back for his accomplishments in the Pillar of Defense war with Hamas last November–falsely noting that we have had the quietest time in the south for the last decade (southern Israelis have had to run to their bomb shelters five times in the last week alone).
And on and on. Here it is for you to read in all of its nauseating platitudes.
An open letter to the people of Israel (English version)
From time to time, prime ministers are called on to make decisions that go against public opinion – when the matter is important for the country.
In order to make decisions that are supported by the public, there is no need for prime ministers.
At the present time, it seems to me that it is very important for the State of Israel to enter into a diplomatic process. This is important both in order to exhaust the chance of ending the conflict with the Palestinians and in order to establish Israel’s position in the complex international reality around us.
The major changes in our region – in Egypt, Syria and in Iran – not only place challenges before the State of Israel but they also create considerable opportunities for us.
For these reasons, I believe that it is important for the State of Israel to enter a diplomatic process that will continue for at least nine months – in order to check if it is possible to reach an agreement with the Palestinians during this time.
But even with all of the importance that I ascribe to the diplomatic process, I was not prepared to accept the Palestinians’ demands for withdrawals and freezes as preconditions for entering negotiations.
Neither was I prepared to accept their demand to release Palestinian prisoners before the start of negotiations. I did agree to release 104 Palestinians in stages after the start of the negotiations and in accordance with the circumstances of their progress.
This is an incomparably difficult decision, it is painful for the bereaved families and it is painful for the entire nation and it is also very painful for me.
It collides with the incomparably important value of justice.
It is a clear injustice when depraved people, even if most of them have sat in prison for over 20 years as in this case, are released before they have finished serving their sentences.
The decision is difficult for me seven-fold because my family and I personally know the price of bereavement stemming from terrorism. I know the pain very well. I have lived with it every day for the past 37 years. The fact that previous Israeli governments have released over 10,000 terrorists does not make it easier for me today, and did not make it easier when I decided to bring back Gilad Shalit.
Gilad Shalit’s return home entailed an incomparably difficult decision for me – releasing terrorists. But I believed that the value of bringing children back home needed to overcome this difficulty.
People in positions of leadership need to choose between complex choices and sometimes the necessary decision is especially difficult when most of the public opposes it.
Thus I decided to end Operation Pillar of Defense after the elimination of arch-terrorist Ahmed Jabari and after the severe blows the IDF dealt to Hamas and the other terrorist organizations.
I made the decision to end the operation even though most of the public supported continued action, which would have required entering the Gaza Strip on the ground. As Prime minister, I thought that the goal of deterrence had been mostly achieved by the determined actions that we carried out.
Today, almost one year after the end of Operation Pillar of Defense, we are witness to the quietest situation in the south in over a decade. Of course, this quiet can fray at any minute but my policy is clear on all fronts: We will, as much as possible, foil threats against us in a timely manner. We will react strongly to any attempt to harm our people.
In the next nine months, we will consider whether there is a Palestinian element opposite us that, like us, truly wants to end the conflict between us.
Such a conclusion will be possible only under conditions that will ensure security for Israel’s citizens and ensure our vital national interests.
If we succeed in achieving such a peace agreement, I will submit it to a referendum.
Such a fateful decision cannot be made by a close vote in the Knesset.
Every citizen must be allowed to directly influence our future and our fate on such a crucial issue.
The best answer we can give to those same base murderers that sought to defeat us through terrorism is that in the decades that they sat in prison, we built a glorious country and turned it into one of the most prosperous, advanced and strongest countries in the world.
I promise that we will continue thus.
Your humble servant is heading for Jerusalem within the hour to protest against the proposed murderer release.
One last thing. Naftali Bennett spoke for most of Israel yesterday when he told the organization of bereaved families (families who have had family members killed by terrorists) and wrote on Facebook:
“I am the last person who needs convincing against the release of murderers . . . Terrorists should be killed, not freed . . . Tomorrow I will vote ‘no’.”