According to the New York Times, in order to entice Israel to stay at the negotiating table and fulfill the requirements it has already agreed to with the Palestinians, the US is offering to release Jonathan Pollard. Pollard was an American who spied for Israel and turned over so much important information that Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger thought he should have been executed. There was no death penalty at the time (30 years ago), and Pollard is serving a life sentence.
To add insult to injury, this jaw-dropping offer is being made to induce Israel to do the same old same old it has been doing for the last 20 years of negotiation--basically, nothing.
In exchange for Pollard, Israel would put a partial freeze on settlement building. First off, let's all recall that building settlements in occupied territory is a war crime, so why we would reward Israel for partially not committing a war crime is beyond me. Second, we've seen what happens when Israel does a partial settlement freeze. Last time (2010), Peace Now documented 492 violations of the settlement freeze in an eight month period.
In addition, Israel has agreed to release Palestinian prisoners it had already agreed to release at the start of the current round of talks. Way to negotiate, Mr. Kerry.
Israel has also agreed to release 400 other prisoners, many of them women and children. Read again. Children. Wow, that must have been one painful concession for Israel.
In addition to getting the release of Pollard, Israel also gets Palestine to agree not to join over 60 UN agencies and the International Criminal Court, where this whole Israel/Palestine debacle belongs.
I hope Palestine doesn't agree. So do the New York Times' readers. Here are some of the top reader-recommended quotes:
Hal Donahue Scranton, PA 6 hours ago
Rather than release an Israeli spy convicted of stealing US secrets, perhaps a better route is to withhold an ever increasing percentage of the massive US aid provided to Israel until a fair agreement is reached?
ex-pat Morocco 6 hours ago
What a travesty! Nothing will be accomplished until Israel starts negotiating in good faith. The US should not even consider a release until after Israel signs and effectively and in good faith implements the conditions of such a treaty. We are being made fools of by Netanyahou.
Charlie Kay 6 hours ago
Way to play it Netanyahu! You get the release of Pollard in exchange for, well in exchange for absolutely nothing. The West Bank construction continues and peace talks plod along leading nowhere, which is exactly where you want them to go.
Frozy Boston 5 hours ago
This is an outrage. What has the Pollard case got to do with the Near East peace talks? If Israel is holding these peace talks as hostage against the US, the US should cut off all help to Isreal and let them manage on their own.
Andrew San Francisco, CA 2 hours ago
How's this...Israel can have Pollard AFTER they successfully conclude a final settlement agreement with the Palestinians.
Children should eat their vegetables before they're given dessert.
Steve Sailer America 5 hours agoIt's not a hoax.
This is the funniest April Fool's Day hoax yet.
It is a hoax, right?
Somebody, please tell me it's a hoax.
UPDATE: The NYT story I linked to above has changed significantly since yesterday. Now it leads off with Mr. Abbas' "defiance." The readers' comments are still there, though. Here is a new article from the NYT that maintains it's focus on the Pollard deal.