The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has pointed to a new poll showing that a dramatically large majority of Jewish Israelis (85%) oppose freeing jailed Palestinian terrorists as a precondition for the resumption of Israeli /Palestinian negotiations. The Smith Research poll found that, in answer to the question of whether they would support releasing terrorists as a gesture to bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table, 57% said they would strongly oppose it, 28% said were against it, whereas only 13% said they supported it and just 2% said they were strongly in favor of such a move. The survey also found that 68% of Israelis believe that Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria would harm Israeli security, whereas only 21% believe it would improve it. (Gil Hoffman, ‘Poll: 85% oppose releasing prisoners for peace,’ Jerusalem Post, June 11, 0213).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “There is no moral or practical justification for freeing convicted, Jew-killing terrorists. Quite the contrary: as we have noted in detail on more than one occasion, the record shows that 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.
“The only obstacle to genuine Israeli/Palestinian talks, in addition to Mahmoud Abbas’ refusal over almost all of the past four and half years to negotiate with Israel, is the PA’s failure to fulfill its commitments under the Oslo agreements to arrest terrorists, dismantle terrorist groups and end the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps.
“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 he has done.
“The whole idea of Israel making a concession to entice the Palestinians to negotiate so Israel can then make more concessions to the Palestinians is absurd on its face. It merely shows that the Palestinians have no interest in peace, no interest in a Palestinian state if it means recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, and no interest in ending the Arab war against Israel.
“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.
“The paramount duty of the Israeli government is to protect its citizens. It follows that the most important consideration must be preventing the loss of further innocent lives to terror, not resuming talks with a terrorist-sponsoring PA that neither accepts Israel as a Jewish state nor works to end the glorification of Jew-murdering terrorists in Palestinian society. Fortunately, the Israeli public understands this and it is our hope the Israeli government will reflect this understanding.”