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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Abu Mazen's garden party

Overnight on Tuesday at the Mukhata, 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen celebrated Israel's release of 26 more terrorist murderers.
Twenty-one inmates convicted of killing Israelis before the 1993 Oslo accords were released from Ofer Prison and returned to Ramallah in the West Bank via the Beitunia checkpoint. 
Five prisoners were freed to the Gaza Strip after they set out from the prison earlier in the day to await their release at the Erez border crossing.
Some two-thousand Palestinians gathered late Tuesday at Mukata, the PLO presidential compound, in Ramallah to celebrate the release of the 21 prisoners to the West Bank, Israel Radio reported.
The crowds waved flags baring the symbols of the PLO, Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and carried signs with pictures of the convicted murderers.
"Our heroes are coming home, long live the prisoners," they chanted in the predawn celebrations.
There's something surreal about the world cheering in (relative) silence as the 'Palestinians' cheer the release of their murderous heroes. But that's not the point of this post. Notice this line buried deep in the story.
On August 13, Israel released the first group of 26 prisoners. Israel was given two choices of goodwill gestures at the onset of the current round of peace negotiations, to either freeze settlement construction or release prisoners.
Yes, that's the impression the Netanyahu government has continued to give the media - that Israel chose to release terrorists rather than to  freeze 'settlement construction' - and that has led to anger at the Jewish Home party from everyone who did not vote for the Jewish Home party.

But were those the only choices? Jewish Home Minister of Senior Citizens Uri Orbach denies there is any connection.
"This is just a crass lie that people are repeating over and over again,” he said. “There was no buffet out there, at which we could choose between a release and a freeze. This government opposes a freeze and opposes a return to the 1967 borders.
"What Abu Mazen wants is to release their prisoners, and all the rest is intended to deflect attention. There was never a single moment at which we had to choose between these things. Even if it is repeated 200 times, it is still a lie,” he insisted.
The prisoner release was intended as “maintenance” for the negotiations with the Palestinians, he said, “and this is a very high cost for maintenance.”
Orbach fended off attacks against Bayit Yehudi, regarding its supposed hypocrisy in attacking the terrorist release, when it is part of the government that is carrying it out.
"It does not stand to reason that the release of depraved murderers would pass completely quietly,” he said. Asked why Bayit Yehudi tried to pass a law against future terrorist releases, if it would not have affected the present release anyway, he said, “I think there is an obligation to protest even if there is no immediate result on the ground.”
He rejected Minister of Interior Gideon Saar's demand that the Bayit Yehudi MKs resign from the government if they do not like what it is doing. “We are Gideon Saar's partners, not his lackeys,” he said. “We will decide whether or not to resign, and over what issue.”
In the meantime, Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to take advantage of this perfect storm, announcing that 1,500 new housing units (which have been announced before) will be allowed in Ramat Shlomo (in 'east' Jerusalem), and that each current resident of Ramat Shlomo will be allowed to expand his or her apartment by up to 50 square meters.
Shortly after the second of four prisoner releases to the Palestinian Authority was completed in the early hours of Wednesday morning, Netanyahu said the government planned to approve tenders for the construction of 1,500 additional housing units in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo.
In addition, he said current owners of apartments in Ramat Shlomo would be allowed to expand their homes with another room to the size of 50 square-meters.

During talks with Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar, approval was also received for the establishment of a visitor's center near the City of David National Park in Silwan.
The premier said plans would also be advanced for the previously-halted construction of a national park on the slopes of Mount Scopus, which would allegedly block the expansion of Arab neighborhoods in the area.
Of course, this ensures that everyone who is not a 'settler' will blame the 'settlers' (and not Netanyahu) for the terrorist release. And the neophytes in the Jewish Home party have no clue how to fight that.

As to Ramat Shlomo (where the Jewish Home party has a miniscule constituency - it's a Haredi neighborhood), we've heard about 1,500 new apartments and expanding existing apartments before. Don't hold your breaths waiting for those recycled promises to happen.

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