Prof. Avi Diskin, an expert on political science at Hebrew University and the Shaarei Mishpat College, says Israel is among the only countries in the world that frees terrorists, if not the only one.
"We are truly unique," he told Arutz Sheva. The United States never did anything like that. It's true that it is truly very very important for us to be in sync with the Americans. It is true that we are extremely dependent on them, and that in order to placate them we free terrorists, but this is a process they would never undertake in their own country.”
Diskin mentioned the deal with Ahmed Jibril's PFLP in the mid-1980s, in which more than a thousand terrorists were freed in exchange for three abducted soldiers, as the point at which most people think Israel's terrorist releases began, but said that this is not necessarily true. He noted that the “the very first terrorist who was caught” was Fatah's Mahmoud Hijazi, who infiltrated into Israel from Jordan in January of 1965, a few months after the PLO was founded. Hijazi was freed in 1971 in exchange for an Israeli, Shmuel Rosenwasser, who was abducted at Metula and held in Lebanon.
“It is a pretty long story, not something new,” said Diskin.
The dilemma of terrorist releases is all about “different sets of norms that collide with each other,” the expert opined, noting that the release of convicted terrorists negates verdicts handed down by courts of law, and also contradicts the norms recommended by the Shamgar Committee.
“I imagine that the reason for this is that the government and prime minister think that for the long term, this justifies breaking the norms,” Diskin said.
The Shamgar Committee, headed by former Supreme Court President Meir Shamgar, was formed in 2008, after IDF soldier Gilad Schalit was abducted, to examine Israel's policy on negotiations with terrorists. It recommended that negotiations with terror groups be carried out by the Defense Ministry under a cloak of secrecy, and parts of its report remain secret.