Objectives should require definition

THE PRISONERS ISSUE IN CEASE-FIRE AND PEACE PLANS:

_ The Tenet Plan: The cease-fire plan worked out in June 2001 by CIA director George Tenet calls on Israel to “release all Palestinians arrested in security sweeps who have no association with terrorist activities.”

_ The Road Map: The U.S.-backed road map peace plan launched last month by President Bush calls on the sides to “resume security cooperation based on the Tenet work plan” and on Israel to carry out unspecified “supportive measures” — but makes no direct mention of a prisoner release.

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Given the ambiguity of the roadmap’s wording it’s easy enough to understand why there is disagreement over which prisoners may be released under the ‘peace plan’.

Should the Israelis agree to demands they release prisoners with ‘blood on their hands’? Further clarification is certainly needed.

The problem is that the Palestinians are demanding the release, first and foremost, of veteran prisoners who have been incarcerated for 10 years or more (there are about 450 such prisoners, some of whom have been in jail for more than 20 years), and are defined, for the most part, as having “blood on their hands.”

Israel, for its part, is willing to release mostly administrative detainees together with a small number of tried prisoners, most of whom are scheduled to be released soon and none of whom have “blood on their hands.”

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Are these life sentences applied to prisoners who were proven to have participated in suicide bombings or simply aligned with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah? Can these life sentences be considered fair when enforced by men like Sharon who refuse to address criticisms of their illegal methods?

Is it realistic to expect the Israelis will ever choose to make such a distinction? Wouldn’t that involve a torturous and painful review of their justice system [pun intended if you desire] and examination of the events leading to the jailings? The time alone required to conduct such investigations would seem to preclude their initiation. As well there would be a question of fairness if the reviews were handled exclusively by the Israelis.

How will such an insurmountable impasse be repaired?

Certainly murdering grandmothers is not a solution.

Islamic Jihad leaders deny knowledge of it. Will they investigate it or merely allow the Israelis to retaliate against it, passively ensuring the breakdown of negotiations and in doing so, knowingly, aggressively contribute to the demise of any peace settlement?

Where are the moderators?

To accept that the United States could be that moderator is passive-aggressive as well.

If you doubt this United States Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer has defined it for you.

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Arab MK Ahmed Tibi Wednesday slammed as “crude” and “irresponsible” remarks by United States Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer, who this week called Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) a “relatively weak man” who tends to “run away from problems.”

Tibi said the Palestinian Authority had lodged a protest with Washington and requested clarifications over remarks Kurtzer made while speaking Monday evening to some 150 rabbis and Jewish lay leaders in Jerusalem

American support of Abbas was secondary to the U.S. desire to remove Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat from power, Kurtzer said in the Monday appearance. “Our objective was not to empower an individual named Abu Mazen; our objective was to disempower an individual named Arafat.”

and…

Kurtzer repeated U.S. President George W. Bush’s assertion that the U.S. is not interested in an internal Palestinian cease-fire except as a means to dismantle terror groups, and that the U.S. will not accept a potential breakdown of the hudna as an excuse for failing to do so.

The Bush administration drew criticism from their most loyal cheerleaders due to their recent recommendation that monies go directly to the Palestinian Authority ostensibly to ‘buy the peace’.

That an administration counseled by advocates of Middle East reordering would make such a gesture might also be judged an effort to buy a peaceful lull in the conflict as they carry out a much more complicated agenda.

The objective should be defined by an international consensus.