It would seem counterproductive to achieving a genuine peace to set free those who had so brutally done all they could to ensure peace found no footing.
And yet, the Palestinian Authority last week was adamant it would not rejoin US-backed peace talks with Israel until the latter agreed to loose 104 terrorists jailed for either murdering or attempting to murder Israeli Jews.
Under normal circumstances, such a demand would leave those on the losing end of that equation scratching their heads.
"It's hard for many Israelis to grasp why their partners for peace demand that the murderers of children be freed," wrote Avi Mayer, the Jewish Agency's director of new media, on his Twitter account.
But after nearly two decades of a failed peace process, most Israelis know better. They know the Palestinian leadership isn't looking for a genuine peace. They know that Mahmoud Abbas and his PLO remain dedicated to the movement's founding principles of never accepting Israel and working continuously, through any means, to bring about the eventual demise of the "Zionist entity."
So, why does Israel continue to play this game? Why is it that every few years Israel repeats what it knows is the wasted gesture of setting free blood-soaked killers?
Israeli Interior Minister Gideon Saar had the answer at Sunday's cabinet meeting, where he passionately argued in favor of the prisoner release despite admitting nothing good could come of it.
"I don't believe we can get a peace agreement with the Palestinians, but I want to preserve Israel's international standing," Saar was quoted as saying by Ha'aretz reporter Barak Ravid. The minister continued: "If we don't vote for the prisoner release our last few friends around the world might not support us anymore in the UN."
Sadly, this is the kind of groveling to which Israel's leaders have been reduced.
As with every previous release of jailed terrorists, this will send a clear message that even the most savage acts of violence against even the most innocent of Israelis will not earn one lasting punishment, but rather a hero's status. And terrorists will be emboldened to continue on their destructive path. And peace will remain elusive.
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