The High Court Sunday night rejected the Almagor terror victims association appeal against the release of another 199 Arab terrorists hours after two judges scored the government for its urgency in freeing them and the use of "slogans" that preclude a proper judicial review of the issue.
However, its final ruling accepted the government position that the decision was in the political and diplomatic area in which the court should not intervene. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has scheduled the release for Monday, the same day that American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is to arrive for one day of talks with him and the Palestinian Authority (PA) on a final status agreement for a new Arab country within Israel's current borders.
"The pain and sorrow of the families who lost their relatives in terror attacks is understandable and touches the heart," the state wrote the court. "Sadly, these people paid the price of terror and the state cannot heal their pain. However, this petition deals with a matter that is… located in the center of the political and diplomatic arena."
The pain and sorrow of the families who lost their relatives in terror attacks is understandable and touches the heart.
The state's attorney also explained that "the government's decision regarding the prisoner release was taken in order to advance the diplomatic process vis-à-vis the Palestinians and with an aim toward strengthening the ties with the PA Chairman and the Palestinian Prime Minister.
"By releasing the Palestinian prisoners the State wished to make it clear that it is aware of the importance of the question and also to make it clear that Palestinian prisoners can be released through dialogue and not just through force or abduction of soldiers."
The PA is planning a mammoth homecoming celebration for the prisoners, who include the terrorists responsible for the attack on a Petach Tikva market 30 years ago, in which the mother of Israel Philharmonic Orchestra violinist Zinovi Kaplan was killed.
Unlike previous terrorist releases, the Arabs have not signed any agreement not to return to terrorism. Several of their family members said they would not return to the path of violence, but Almagor has pointed out that a large percentage of terrorists freed in past have returned to terrorism, including many who signed pledges they would stay clear of anti-Israel attacks.
The government stated after the court decision, "Through this latest confidence-building measure, which addresses an issue of critical significance for the Palestinians, Israel seeks to intensify its continued dialogue with partners who are both committed to diplomacy and opposed to terrorism. The release further underscores Israel's willingness to make painful concessions for the sake of advancing peace negotiations."