CMEP Bulletin: Prisoners and the Peace Process, the Olive Harvest, and More

CMEP Bulletin: Prisoners and the Peace Process, the Olive Harvest, and More

View the current CMEP Bulletin with updates on the peace process

Gilad Shalit, Prisoners Freed

Emotional homecomings for both Israelis and Palestinians marked the prisoner swap that took place on Tuesday.

Israelis welcomed home Gilad Shalit, the young soldier who was held in captivity in the Gaza Strip for more than five years. Palestinians welcomed the return of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners freed from Israeli jails in exchange for Shalit’s release.

Hamas released Shalit through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Isreal at the air force base where Shalit saw his family for the first time. The Prime Minister gave a speech saying, “One of the principal and most complicated missions which I set my heart to was to bring our abducted soldier Gilad Shalit back home, alive and well. Today, that mission has been completed.”

Palestinians also celebrated as well as they welcomed the first wave of more than 400 prisoners released to return to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Under the deal, more than 260 Palestinians will return to their homes. However, about 200 detainees will not be allowed to return home and instead will be sent to Gaza or deported to Turkey, Syria, and Qatar. A second wave of 550 prisoners is expected to be released as a part of the exchange in December.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas greeted the prisoners returning to the West Bank with a well-orchestrated ceremony in Ramallah. He said, “You are freedom fighters and holy warriors for the sake of God and the homeland.” Similar celebrations took place in Gaza, with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh present to meet with the released prisoners.

Recent news indicates that President Abbas is hoping to secure a prisoner exchange as well, calling on Prime Minister Netanyahu to release Palestinian prisoners as a confidence building measure to precede a return to negotiations.  He cites a confidential promise from previous Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that after the Shalit deal was done, he would release “some big number” of prisoners as a goodwill gesture to jumpstart peace talks. While Abbas calls on the current prime minister to uphold the deal, he acknowledged that it is unlikely to happen. “Of course I doubt that Netanyahu will do it,” Abbas said in an interview with Time Magazine.

Click here to continue reading this CMEP Bulletin, including the following items:

  • The prisoner exchange and the peace (non)process
  • Time is “not ripe” for negotiations
  • A November vote (take action)
  • Settlement “freeze” and expansion
  • The olive harvest: Stifled potential
  • Palestinian minors still jailed
  • Palestinian elections
  • CMEP Christmas photo project