Monday, July 09, 2007

The futility of "goodwill gestures"

From Ma'an:
The families of Palestinian prisoners detained in Israeli jails have expressed their reservations about the Israeli prime minister's initiative to release 250 Fatah-affiliated prisoners. They said that accepting such an offer would only fracture the Palestinian national unity, and they called on President Abbas to make a deal that includes all Palestinian detainees without exceptions.

The prisoners' families depicted freeing any Palestinian detainee as an accomplishment; however, they expressed their fear that the 250 whom Israeli Prime Minister Olmert intends to free would include only prisoners who have almost completed their sentences, and who are scheduled for release shortly in any case.

Such conduct would help improve the Israeli image internationally, the families said, while failing to serve the Palestinian people, of whom almost 12, 000 are detained in Israeli jails in dire conditions. In addition, most of the detainees are denied visits by their families.

The prisoners' families held their weekly sit-in outside the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Monday. They asserted that they would prefer a comprehensive prisoners' swap that includes all affiliations and is conducted under Palestinian conditions.
Israel is stupidly offering, for free, to release 250 known or probable terrorists, and their families are supposedly saying that it is not a good idea.

Now it is entirely possible that this is a contrived PR move where the families of known terrorist murderers, who know that their relatives will never be released, are being set up to be quoted in a newspaper purely for pressuring Israel. Nevertheless, it shows the absolute futility of "goodwill gestures" - they create no goodwill at all, and on the contrary, they engender even more demands.

The only goodwill that ever come out of moves like this are a very temporary PR bump for Israel in the West. These reactions generally last a few weeks. Then, Israel is stuck with the consequences of unilateral gesture that cannot be undone - in this case, dealing with hundreds of new terrorists in the territories.

The day that Palestinian Arabs thank Israel for unilateral gestures is the day that they may have real value. As long as they are greeted with jeers and insults, their goodwill value seems to be below zero.