Skip to main content

The Price of Peace: Releasing Palestinian Prisoners

Yesterday's terrorists are today's heroes, whose release is essential to prevent the wars of tomorrow — in South Africa, Israel and Palestine.
Rayya, mother of Palestinian Fares Baroud, who has been held prisoner by Israel for 22 years, wipes her tears as she holds his picture after hearing news on the possible release of her son in her house at Shati refugee camp in Gaza City July 28, 2013. Baroud was expected to be among more than 100 Arab prisoners to be released as a step to renew stalled peace talks with the Palestinians ahead of plans to convene negotiators in Washington later this week.  Israeli ministers have yet to vote on the releases. R
Read in 

One can understand the feelings of a bereaved Jewish mother who demonstrates in the town square against the release from prison of her son’s killer, or the crying of an Israeli youth orphaned when a Palestinian murderer planted a bomb on a bus. Nothing compares to their pain, and yet, it’s also possible to understand the feelings of a Palestinian mother whose son has still not come home from jail even though the Oslo Accord was supposed to bring an historic reconciliation with the State of Israel 20 years ago. One should also commiserate with the Palestinian girl who has never been embraced by her father’s arms. But revenge is no consolation.

Bonds cannot imprison the yearning of a people for freedom. Ten life sentences will not put an end to the violence of a people struggling to be free of the shackles of occupation. The politician and shapers of public opinion who oppose the release of Palestinian prisoners in order to enable progress toward a diplomatic agreement and an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, would do well to read the words written by former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela, probably the world’s most famous political prisoner.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.