I have received a number of letters lately asking about progress in negotiations with the Palestinians – for peace, for settlements, to stop the rockets out of Gaza, for blockades, for recognition, for compensation for Jewish refugees from Arab lands, for resettling Palestinian refugees, for the release of Gilad Shalit.
I think that my approach to that last one (Gilad Shalit) sums up them all.
In my letter Calling the bluff of around a year ago, I advocated severely curtailing specific rights of Palestinian prisoners until our missing soldiers received their rights under international law. Would it work – at least to allow Red Cross access to Gilad Shalit? Consider the following:
On August 25, a few days before Gilad Shalit’s birthday, Israel stopped Palestinian prisoners’ visiting rights. Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported on the measures, together with accusations that Israel was acting illegally and bending to extremist pressure.
The very same day, a Hamas delegation left for Egypt to meet with a German negotiator to try to make progress on the negotiations for Shalit’s release and Hamas “affiliates” claimed that a deal was days away.
Palestinian prisoners’ rights were immediately restored, and now we hear from Hamas that a deal is “still a long way off”.
Frankly, I am sick of hearing that Israel, after making so much effort and taking so much risk to behave in both an ethical and legal manner, has committed “war crimes”, has acted “disproportionately” or is in breach of some fancifully contorted “international law”, especially redefined to strip Israel of the right and obligation to protect its citizens.
I believe that in every field of our dealings with the Palestinians, the time has come to apply only one buzzword: “reciprocity”. The definition from Wikipedia will do for me:
In international relations and treaties, the principle of reciprocity states that favours, benefits, or penalties that are granted by one state to the citizens or legal entities of another, should be returned in kind.