New York – The ZOA has criticized Palestinian Authority (PA) chief Mahmoud Abbas request to President George W. Bush to exert pressure on Israel to release Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, virtually all of whom have been involved in terrorist activities, including the architect of the current terrorist war, Marwan Barghouti.
Barghouti is a founder of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the terrorist group within Mahmoud Abbas Fatah party and is serving multiple life terms in an Israeli prison for his role in the killings of four Israelis and a Greek monk. He is also suspected of having personally planned dozens of suicide bombings and shooting attacks. Barghouti this week announced from prison his plans to run in the upcoming Palestinian elections. Palestinian Minister for Prisoner Affairs, Sufian Abu Zaida, said Barghouti would be on the list of candidates from Abbas Fatah party for a possible parliamentary seat. (World Net Daily, October 20).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, We strongly criticize Mahmoud Abbas request to the President that Palestinian prisoners, including convicted terrorists like Marwan Barghouti, be released by Israel. This request exposes Abbas as someone not genuinely interested in peace.
If Abbas was really serious about achieving peace and meeting his obligation to end terrorism against Israel, he would not be seeking to have pressure exerted on Israel to release convicted killers. To the contrary, far from demanding their release, he would be insisting that they remain in prison for fear that if they were released, they would commit terrorist acts which would harm the chances for peace.
Let us be clear. These are not political prisoners. They have not been jailed for their political beliefs. They have been imprisoned for their terrorist actions. We urge President Bush to reject this anti-peace request to pressure Israel to release terrorists, something that runs clean contrary to the Presidents clearly stated policy of fighting Islamist terrorists and their sponsors. It is as if Mahmoud Abbas would be asking the United States to release the terrorists imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.
President Bush should reject Abbas demand for the release of convicted murderers and demand instead that the PA fulfill its obligations to disarm and arrest terrorists, end the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA, close the bomb factories, end the smuggling of arms and explosives, change the names of streets, schools and sports clubs in the PA named in honor of suicide bombers and place Israel at long last on the maps and in the atlases published by the PA.