Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Jerrold Kessel of CNN discussed the release of 339 Palestinian prisoners, but pointed out the "fact" that it was not in the roadmap.

COSTELLO: Israel has now started releasing hundreds of Palestinians from an Israeli prison ... But the Palestinians are demanding more and it is creating another speed bump on that road map to peace.

KESSEL: The Israelis are calling this a goodwill gesture and, indeed, it is, in terms of the fact that they don't -- aren't obliged under the road map for peace to actually release Palestinian prisoners.
But the demand to release prisoners is in the roadmap, which I have explained already. The Roadmap calls on both sides to implement the Tenet Plan, which says: "Israel will release all Palestinians arrested in security sweeps who have no association with terrorist activities."

The Palestinians released today were not involved with terrorist activities and most of the charges include: stone throwing, possession of weapons and using weapons in situations where no one was injured. About 15,000 Palestinians have been arrested since thes start of the al-Aqsa Intifada. What has been publicized are the suicide bombings and the "retaliatory attacks" in the occupied territories. What has not been noted in the media, is that they are imprisoned in inhumane and life-threathening condition and are tortured.

In addition, the Israelis refused to open the Orient House in East-Jerusalem--PLO headquarters--because the institution ''is aimed at preventing the Palestinian Authority from acting to erode Israel's sovereignty in Jerusalem," says Public Security Minister Tsahi Hanegbi. Just one problem here: Israel has no sovereignity over Jerusalem. United Nations Security Council Resolution 252 declares that Israel's attempts to "change the legal status of Jerusalem are invalid and cannot change that status.” Even the U.S. doesn't recognize Israel's annexation of Jerusalem as legal. The official U.S. position is embodied in the U.S. Letter of Assurances to the Palestinians of October 1991, part of the official record of the Madrid Peace Conference. In part, it reads:
The United States understands how much importance Palestinians attach to the question of east Jerusalem…. It remains the firm position of the United States that Jerusalem must never again be a divided city and that its final status should be decided by negotiations. Thus, we do not recognize Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem or the extension of its municipal boundaries, and we encourage all sides to avoid unilateral acts that would exacerbate local tensions or make negotiations more difficult or preempt their final outcome.
Hey, that's what allies are for!


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