Monday, May 14, 2012

Arlene Kushner On The Palestinian Hunger Strike And Why Egypt Is Involved

From Arlene Kushner:

May 14, 2012

"First the Good Stuff"

I wrote not long ago about an excellent up-beat film on Israel called "Israel Inside," with Tal Ben-Shahar, produced by Rafi Shore. 

Now, to coincide with Israeli Independence Day according to the secular calendar, JerusalemOnlineU, the creator and distributor of the movie, is offering viewing via free streaming -- for one week starting today.  You can access it here: Free Stream of Israel Inside

Please, take the time to see it, pass it along quickly so that others might see it, and publicize it via blogs and lists.

We have so very much to be proud of, in terms of who we are. 


So very much to be proud of.... But oh the angst about the things that are going in the wrong direction here.  I seem to have pushed a lot of buttons with my posting yesterday, if reader response is any indication. 
My very favorite (and very "on the mark") observation came from reader Sandor S: 
"Jews debating destruction of Jewish homes and worrying about convicted enemies who choose not to eat?? "This is the theatre of the absurd."
Yeah... it is.


I wrote yesterday that a source (whom I normally find highly reliable) advised me that Israel was involving the military government of Egypt (SCAF) in negotiations on the prisoners in order to give it a needed boost.
But I have now uncovered another, related but deeper, reason for Egyptian involvement:
A small number -- perhaps as many as five -- of the prisoners currently protesting their administrative detention are people previously in Israeli prisons who had been released as part of the trade for Shalit.  They were tracked, and when it was clear they were again (or still) involved with terrorism, and thus a danger to Israel, were picked up once again and are being held in administrative detention.  (With thanks to Judith N on this.)

Egypt was key to the negotiations between Israel and Hamas regarding the trade of Palestinian Arab prisoners for Shalit.

Hamas is now saying that Egyptian officials assumed responsibility for guaranteeing that the prisoners, once released, would not then be rounded up again by Israel. 

(If Egypt did make such a pledge, did this include those who were again involved in terrorist activity?  I can safely conjecture that no differentiation was made -- or put the other way around, that it was assumed they would be involved in terror, no matter the promises that were extracted, and that this was irrelevant to the deal.)

Saleh Aruri, who holds the prisoners’ portfolio in Hamas, said there would have been no deal if not for  the assurances provided by Egyptian authorities:
"I think the Egyptian government is bound morally and legally to demand the immediate release of the rearrested prisoners. We are going to contact the Egyptian brothers to press them to intervene."
While Issa Karaki, PA Minister for Prisoners' Affairs, has said:
"By re-arresting some of these freed prisoners in violation of the Egyptian-mediated deal, Israel is demonstrating contempt and disregard for Egypt and its government. I believe the proverbial ball is squarely in the Egyptian court."

And so now we truly see a reason for Egypt to want to be involved, as well as a reason why Israel would agree to that involvement in order to try to save SCAF embarrassment in the Arab world. 

What I had yesterday was merely the surface of the story.  Here we learn a lesson, once again, regarding how complex these matters can be.


As I write, the word is that Egypt has put together a proposal to which Israel and the prisoners have now agreed.   It is clear that Israel was eager to cool matters, so that it would not be necessary to deal with rioting prisoners and possibly rioting sympathizers as well. 

Credit: rfi

And so concessions have been made.

I have read that leaders of the prisoners were brought to a prison in Ashkelon to discuss the potential agreement with Israeli officials -- with the Shin Bet representing Israel.  This scenario makes my stomach very tight indeed. 

All of the details of the agreement have not been released.  While Israel -- whose officials seem to be saying little -- has refused to do away with administrative detention entirely, there will apparently be some modification of this practice.  This is worrisome in terms of what it may do to the security of the Israeli populace. 

According to at least one report, there will be some prisoners released.  If they are the prisoners who had originally been released in the exchange with Shalit, and then picked up again, this will be very bad news indeed.  But I would not be surprised, for this would be Israel "redeeming" Egypt's position in the Arab world.

Other concessions involve the conditions for the prisoners -- family visitations, solitary confinement, etc. 


Hard for me to believe -- that I've devoted the bulk of a posting to this prison issue.  I am not proud of what I've had to write.  The PA has the death penalty for people who sell land to Jews, and the world is trying to hold us accountable for how we treat murderers. And we cooperate.

This comment from MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union):

"Netanyahu’s ‘just talk’ government has folded yet again instead of striking with an iron fist.

"It turns out that baby killers will keep living the high life in Bibi’s rest center."


Much more to write about, and it will have to wait until tomorrow...


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