On Sunday, a ministerial committee headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved a list of 26 convicted Palestinian murderers and would-be murderers who are to be released from prison as part of a four-step process meant to underscore Israel’s seriousness about achieving a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority.
On Tuesday, Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Eviatar Manor, said as much during a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The release, he said, proved that the Jewish state was serious about peace.
Because the current round of talks between Israel and the PA are being held in secret, as they must be if there is to be any chance of success, it is impossible to gauge the seriousness of either party to the talks. It is clear, however, that Netanyahu does not have strong support within his governing coalition for any deal with the Palestinians that involves ceding territory, especially Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem.
We do not want to believe that this prisoner release is nothing more than a cynical political publicity stunt. We would feel more comfortable about it, however, if Netanyahu dissolved his current coalition and formed a government of national unity that is more amenable to making concessions for peace.