The airwaves are abuzz with news of the Gilad Shalit/Palestinian prisoner swap, in which 1027 Palestinian prisoners will be released over two stages and several months in exchange for the release of soldier Gilad Shalit.
Among those to be released are prisoners serving life sentences, and all Palestinian women prisoners, as well as big names like PFLP’s Ahmed Saadat, and Marwan Barghouthi.
AJE analyst Marwan Bishara refers to many of those being released as the “lost faces of this conflict” because of the sheer length of time they have been serving sentences-some from before the signing of the Oslo Accord.
5000 or more Palestinian prisoners will remain in Israeli detention of course, many without charge, and conditions conditions continue to deteriorate on the ground. Criticism of the deal aside-the distraction it is causing from ongoing Israeli colonization and apartheid etc., the deal is being celebrated by at least some people: children have grown up without ever knowing their fathers. For the first time in decades, they will re-unite. Tactically, this deal was one both Hamas, and Netanyahu, badly needed. It was Hamas’s power play answer to Abbas’s UN statehood bid, though Hamas’s Meshal emphasized in a televised speech earlier today that this was not a factional, but a national, accomplishment.
Also today, overshadowed by news of the prisoner swap, was this bit of less headline making news: Netanyahu today announced has decided to form a spin committee that would find a way to legalize the construction of illegal settlement outposts on private Palestinian land.
In response, B’Tselem – the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, stated that the move will “render the Israeli government an active accomplice in the private land theft and dispossession of Palestinians” and labeled the committee a merely more blatant version of an already existing Israeli occupation policies: “manipulation of the law in order to lend a guise of legality to the settlement project. Until now, the government aided the theft of Palestinian land by turning a blind eye, by lack of law enforcement and, in some cases, by funding construction in outposts. ”
The formation of the committee means that the government will now become an active accomplice in the private land theft and dispossession of Palestinians: until now, the government aided the theft of Palestinian land by turning a blind eye, by lack of law enforcement and, in some cases, by funding construction in outposts.