As Israel prepares for its second of four Palestinian prisoner releases, it’d be something of an understatement to suggest that there is some opposition to it. Naftali Bennett’s The Jewish Home party introduced legislation to stop the release of the prisoners as part of the agreed-upon conditions for peace talks, a bill which was rejected by a committee yesterday. Soon after, the list of 26 Palestinian prisoners was finalized–culled from a group of prisoners that committed offenses prior to the 1993 Oslo Accords–and approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Upon the news that Paula Abdul would get her bat mitzvah at the Kotel, after everyone had taken two steps forward, they took two steps back. The prisoner release will apparently coincide with the announcement of new West Bank settlements in a move to placate the Israeli right.
Oh, and then two rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza this morning. Iron Dome, activated for the first time in months, knocked down one rocket, the other fell in open turf.
There were no injuries or damage in the attacks, which triggered a Color Red rocket alert.
The rocket fire came a day after two mortar shells fired from Gaza landed in southern Israel and coincided with the announcement of the names of 26 Palestinian security prisoners set to be released by Israel on Tuesday.
Hamas, while pro-prisoner release, is very anti-peace process. Over at the Times of Israel, Avi Issacharoff sought to dissuade people from connecting the two events.
The truth is there isn’t necessarily a connection between the two. But if there is one, it seems the missile launchers weren’t inspired by the release of the prisoners but rather the opposite: They want to damage what is perceived among the Palestinian public as another achievement for PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who has succeeded once again in getting Israel to release prisoners by just negotiating — not through kidnappings, not through murders, not with a second Gilad Shalit or a prisoner swap.
This formula, that the release of prisoners within the framework of negotiations strengthens Abbas’s position, is known to the Israeli government — even to the ministers of the right-wing Jewish Home, which has cried foul over the release.
In other words, the Jewish Home and Hamas are in agreement on this one.
Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.