PA Wants 1,000 Prisoners Freed to Continue Talks

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Israel and the Palestinians

 Killing Israelis is quite lucrative. Just ask Muqdad Salah and the NY Times. Salah served 20 years in prison for murdering Israel Tenenbaum, a Holocaust survivor. Then he watched the PA stipends (subsidized by the US and UK) accumulate. Jodi Rudoren writes:

Mr. Salah was flush with more than $100,000 saved from the Palestinian Authority’s monthly payments to prisoners’ families. He remodeled and refurnished his mother’s home. He bulldozed the rocky slope out back and built a 2,400-square-foot pen for livestock. He invested in a Nablus money-changing storefront in December, and, last month, bought his first car, a silver 2007 Kia Pride.

In an astonishing Al Jazeera Arabic video (via Tom Gross), news presenter Faisal Al-Qaseem says the Israeli (and French) armies have a better record at avoiding civilian casualties than Syria  and Hezbollah.

Why don’t they learn from the Israeli army which tries, through great efforts, to avoid shelling areas populated by civilians in Lebanon and Palestine? Didn’t Hezbollah take shelter in areas populated by civilians because it knows that Israeli air force doesn’t bomb those areas? Why doesn’t the Syrian army respect premises of universities, schools or inhabited neighborhoods? Why does it shell even the areas of its supporters?”

• A NY Times staff-ed weighs in on the peace talks. The last paragraph basically calls on the US to impose a solution — a solution that the Times would like to see:

If they cannot, or will not, agree on a framework for negotiations, the United States should put forward its own statement of principles, including setting boundaries along the prewar 1967 lines and endorsing Jerusalem as the capital of two states. The purpose of such a statement would be to set a high standard for what a reasonable peace deal should offer, presuming the parties ever decide to pursue it.

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• It’s not enough to compare Marwan Barghouti to Nelson Mandela. Over at The Guardian, Martin Linton equates the Fatah terror chief with Gandhi. How about we canonize Barghouti now — St. Marwan — and be done with it? Linton also thinks all the other Palestinians behind bars are political prisoners.

An international campaign has been launched to free Barghouti and the 4,227 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails.

For more commentary/analysis, see Khaled Abu Toameh (Abbas no longer takes the US seriously), Ali Jarbawi (extending peace talks is just a nice way for Kerry to avoid the embarrassment of collapsing talks), Reuven Berko (apartheid, Palestinian style),  Jerold Auerbach (who is a refugee?), and Timon Dias (Europe’s misguided settlement boycott).

Iranian Atomic Urgency

fail whale Iranian critics of Hassan Rouhani took to Twitter to denounce the government for failing to obtain the release of five border guards kidnapped by Pakistani Islamists. (After one soldier was executed, Tehran hanged 16 Sunni rebels in retaliation.) According to the Times of London, Iranians wanted to know why Rouhani wasn’t more like Israel in trying to bring back its soldiers.

The posts make excruciating reading for Tehran. “Keep saying ‘Death to Israel’ but they freed 1,027 Palestinians in return for the release of one of their own,” one Iranian wrote on Facebook . . .

Most of the comparisons with the Shalit case have been posted overseas, but commented on all over the Islamic Republic. Being compared unfavourably to Israel by their own citizens underscores why Iranian authorities are so wary of lifting the ban on social media. It also highlights the futility of the ban, with Iranians taking to Facebook and Twitter in their millions, using virtual private networks to evade censors.

So if Israel freed 1,027 Palestinians for Gilad Shalit while Iran hanged 16 people for five soldiers, it’s time to crunch numbers with Deborah Orr.

Arab Spring Winter

Yet another incident along the Israeli-Syrian border, where gunmen trying to sabotage the border fence were shot. It’s not clear who the gunmen were affiliated with. Media reports cited YNet that the pair died.

Amir Taheri: Lebanon may now be ripe for an Iranian power grab.

Rest O’ the Roundup

Worth reading: The Next Arab-Israeli War Will Be Fought with Drones: Hezbollah, weaponized robots, and a future that’s already here.

 Standard & Poors affirms Israel’s A+ credit rating.

Isracoin Israel’s releasing its own virtual currency, Isracoin. The Media Line explains:

While Bitcoins are a universal virtual currency, some countries, including Iceland, Cyprus and Spain, also have their own particular type. Now Israel is set to join that club, with the launch of “Isracoins” this week.

 Herb Keinon: Turkish-Israeli ties won’t be all chocolates and teddy bears after Turkey’s elections.

(Image of Koran via Flickr/crystalina, Chinkin via UN Photo)

For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.

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