Dispatches > The Buzz Sidebar

Goodwill hunting

How about more gestures from the Palestinians?

Issue: "All heart," July 14, 2007

Sometimes, for those who pay attention, the stars align and produce spectacular effects in the cosmos and on earth. A similar effect can occasionally be produced through journalism.

On June 26, The Washington Post featured three stories on its World News page that should teach a lesson to anyone who wishes to pay attention. The top story was headlined, "Olmert Makes 'Gesture of Goodwill': At Summit in Egypt, Israeli Leader Pledges to Seek Release of 250 Palestinian Prisoners."

The story just below featured this headline: "Israeli Soldier, on Tape, Pleads for Prisoner Swap: A Year After Capture, [Gilad] Shalit Says He Needs To Be Hospitalized."

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The third story's headline was "Hope Dims for Imminent Release of BBC Reporter."

When Israel has previously released prisoners who were captured because many of them had killed, or tried to kill, Israelis, many returned to the company of their jihadist brothers and plotted to kill again. On occasion, Israel might have received one kidnapped Israeli soldier or civilian hostage in return for freeing hundreds of prisoners, but mostly it got nothing.

In a telephone interview, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told me, "Abbas doesn't have what it takes by himself" to stabilize the West Bank and that Jordan, along with Egypt, must serve as part of an "external scaffolding" in partnership with Israel to counter Hamas in the West Bank. Netanyahu opposes Olmert's prisoner release idea, saying, "This is a wrong, harmful message that will not strengthen the Palestinian Authority. It will only weaken it."

In Washington meetings with Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), Netanyahu said a division of the Jordanian military should be deployed in the West Bank in order to bring law and order to the area. Netanyahu described Palestinian society to me as "dysfunctional" and said something must be done to "control the mobs."

Israel has made many goodwill gestures, and after each one Israel has become more vulnerable. How about a goodwill gesture from the Palestinian side, such as foreswearing violence and living up to their promises?

-© 2007 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Cal Thomas
Cal Thomas

Cal, whose syndicated column appears on WORLD's website and in more than 500 newspapers, is a frequent contributor to WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It. Follow Cal on Twitter @CalThomas.

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