PA’s Abbas: No Peace Unless Israel Releases Jailed Terrorists
April 17, 2008

Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas has issued a statement broadcast by PA radio today, which the PA has promoted as ‘Prisoner’s Day,’ saying that “Our position was and is still unwavering – that it is not possible to make peace with Israel unless all prisoners and all detainees are freed …There will be no signing of any agreement that does not guarantee freedom for all of them” (‘Palestinians mark Prisoner’s Day across the West Bank,’ Agence France Presse (AFP), April 17, 2008).


Mahmoud Abbas’ record on terrorism, terrorists and prisoners:


  • Promoting terrorists: In May 2006, Abbas named Mahmoud Damra, wanted by Israel for leading shooting and roadside bomb attacks against Israelis, including the killing of IDF soldiers near Neve Tzuf in 2000 and of an Israeli citizen near Tapuach, in Samaria, in 2001, as commander of Fatah’s Force 17. Damra also served under Yasser Arafat in order to escape Israeli arrest (Israel National News, 7, May 30, 2006).

  • Protecting terrorists: Abbas, like Yasser Arafat before him, has sheltered wanted terrorists in the Muqata, his presidential compound in Ramallah, including Khaled Shawish, a senior Fatah commander responsible for the murder of 19 Israelis and the wounding of dozens more in numerous attacks, until Israeli forces captured him when he ventured outside the compound in May 2007 (Jerusalem Post, May 31, 2007).

  • Fighting Israel: “We have a legitimate right to direct our guns against Israeli occupation … Our rifles, all our rifles are aimed at The Occupation” (Jerusalem Post, January 11, 2007; Independent Media & Review Analysis, January 12, 2007).

  • On suicide bombers: “Allah loves the martyr” (Wall Street Journal, January 5, 2005).

  • On wanted Palestinian terrorists: “heroes fighting for freedom” (Age [Melbourne], January 3, 2005); “Israel calls them murderers, we call them strugglers” (Jerusalem Post, December 25, 2004).

  • On Palestinian terrorist leaders Yasser Arafat, Hamas’ Ahmad Yasin and Abdel Aziz Rantisi and Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Fathi Shikaki: “martyrs” (Palestinian Media Center, September 9, 2005).

·       On Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine founder and leader George Habash: “The death of this historic leader is a great loss for the Palestinian cause and for the Palestinian people for whom he fought for 60 years” (Daily Star [Beirut], January 28, 2008).

·       On Hamas: “We must unite the Hamas and Fatah blood in the struggle against Israel as we did at the beginning of the intifada. We want a political partnership with Hamas” (Jerusalem Post, February 5, 2007).

·       On Yasser Arafat: “It is our duty to implement the principles of Yasser Arafat” (Haaretz, January 3, 2005); “We will continue in the path of the late president until we fulfill all his dreams” (Agence France-Presse, November 11, 2005); “The Palestinian leadership won’t stray from Arafat’s path” (Yediot Ahronot, November 11, 2006).

·       On using terrorism: “At this present juncture, I am opposed to the armed struggle because we can’t succeed in it, but maybe in the future things will be different” (Jerusalem Post, February 28, 2008).

·       On Fatah’s pioneering role in terrorism: “I had the honor of firing the first shot in 1965 and of being the one who taught resistance to many in the region and around the world; what it’s like; when it is effective and when it isn’t effective; its uses, and what serious, authentic and influential resistance is … We [Fatah] had the honor of leading the resistance and we taught resistance to everyone, including Hizballah, who trained in our military camps” (Jerusalem Post, February 28, 2008).

  • On disarming Palestinian terrorists: a “red line” that must not be crossed (Washington Times, January 3, 2005)

  • On jailed Palestinian terrorists: “our heroes.” (Israel National News, May 26, 2006).

  • On the Lebanese terrorist group Hizballah: A source of pride and sets an example for the “Arab resistance” (Jerusalem Post, August 6, 2006).


A 2006 detailed report issued by the Almagor Terror Victims Association (ATVA), shows that between the years 1993-1999, Israel released 6,912 terrorists within the context of “confidence building measures” and prisoner deals. Of that number, 854 (14%) were arrested subsequently for lethal terrorists acts which claimed the lives of 123 Israelis. The ATVA report concluded, “The mass killing due to these attacks included … a huge number of victims with disabilities due to the attack and many other victims. In all the previous death-bargains, the overwhelming majority of those released returned to terrorist activities, at the cost of a huge destruction of life.”


Meir Indor, Director of ATVA, disclosed in April 2007 that 177 Israelis killed in terror attacks in the last five years were killed by Palestinians who had been previously released from Israeli jails on the basis that they were “without blood on their hands” (Jerusalem Post, April 10, 2007). Also in April, the Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee Chairman, Tzachi Hanegbi (Kadima) said that 35 Israelis had been murdered by prisoners Israel released in exchange for Elchanan Tennenbaum, an Israeli businessman kidnapped by Hizballah (Independent Media & Review Analysis, April 13, 2007).


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “Mahmoud Abbas has proved again that he is neither a moderate nor peace-maker. His words and deeds on the so called Prisoner’s Day – which should be really termed ‘Release Murderers Day’ – plainly show his admiration, support for and protection of terrorists and his desire to see more of them, not less of them, walking the streets of the PA. If Abbas were truly interested in peace, he would both support Israeli counter-terrorist measures and desire to see terrorists kept behind bars. He would not be agitating for their release, let alone making negotiations dependent on such releases.


“As the record shows, releasing jailed terrorists, quite apart from being a travesty of justice, since murderers should serve their full term, encourages more kidnapping of Israelis and leads to more bloodshed when many of those released return to murdering and maiming innocent Jewish men, women and children.


“For these reasons, the ZOA has consistently opposed Israel releasing terrorists on the basis that the Israeli government’s supposed prohibition on releasing those ‘with blood on their hands’ does not actually include those convicted for attempting to kill, planting or throwing bombs or shooting at Israelis in attacks that happened to prove non-lethal. It is clear that prisoners the Israeli government is defining as ‘not having blood on their hands’ often fall into that category simply because their terror plans failed, or because others pulled the trigger or detonated the bomb. This makes them attempted murderers or accessories to murder. We are fooling ourselves if we believe releasing such people will not lead to further murder and maiming of innocent Israeli men, women and children.

“The ZOA deeply sympathizes with Israeli families and others when their sons are kidnapped by terrorists. As we have said on previous occasions, we would support virtually any effort to bring them home safely. But when the record clearly shows that prisoner releases bring only more terror, more murder and more kidnappings of Jewish people, we painfully must accept the fact that we will save more Israeli lives by not rewarding kidnappings through prisoner releases.


“The Israeli government should not release a single terrorist from jail and should not even consider doing so in order to advance a bogus peace process with an unreconstructed terror-supporting regime like Abbas’ PA. We also urge Prime Minister Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to express deep concern at Abbas’ statement, to raise it with Abbas and demand a promise that such an anti-peace statement will never be repeated.”

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