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Even the PA Blames Terrorist Releases for Kidnapping

Terrorist releases 'show kidnappers that Israel can be blackmailed,' PA official acknowledges. But how sincere is the condemnation?
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 6/20/2014, 9:51 AM

Demonstrators celebrate terrorist release in Jerusalem
Demonstrators celebrate terrorist release in Jerusalem
Flash 90

In the wake of last week's abduction of three kidnapped yeshiva students, much criticism has been lobbed at Israel's longtime policy of releasing terrorists in exchange for captives, or within the framework of peace talks. 

But on Friday, a rare word of criticism toward the policy came not from within Israel, but from within the Palestinian Authority (PA) itself.

"Every time Israel is ready to release security prisoners with blood on their hands to release captives, it sends a clear message to kidnappers that [Israel] can be blackmailed," Elias Zinniri, Consultant on the PA Committee to Interact with Israeli Society, stated on IDF Radio's "Good Morning Israel" program Friday morning.

Casting doubt on the sincerity of the statements are those of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who on Wednesday condemned the kidnapping so as to play victim, saying "those who kidnapped the three teenagers want to destroy us (the PA). We will hold them accountable."

IDF officials revealed Wednesday that at least 51 terrorists released as part of the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal were rearrested this week, as part of the large-scale "Operation Brothers' Keeper" aiming to rescue the teens and destroy Hamas' terror infrastructure in Judea and Samaria.

Calls to permanently ban the practice of releasing terrorists have been escalating since news of the kidnapping first broke on Friday, with many blaming the policy for the rise in terrorism in Judea and Samaria, and for providing incentives for terrorists to kidnap more Israeli citizens. 

On Saturday night, the call was echoed by former Israel Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet) Chief Yuval Diskin

"We should stop releasing terrorists for kidnapped soldiers, or releasing terrorists instead of implementing a construction freeze [in Judea and Samaria - ed.] during peace talks with the Palestinians - it encourages more kidnappings," Diskin wrote on Facebook. 

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman declared Sunday that there would be a "no tolerance" policy toward the releases following the abduction. 

"There will be no releases for those Palestinian terrorists sitting in Israeli prisons - not as a 'gesture' and not for any other reason," Liberman stated to IDF Radio Sunday morning.

It should be noted that, earlier this year, Israel agreed to release 104 terrorist prisoners as a "gesture" to the PA and a precondition to peace talks - on the PA's specific request.