[Ppnews] Political prisoner - Hamas deal a "great step forward"

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Nov 4 14:19:28 EDT 2011



Political prisoner: Hamas deal a "great step forward"

<http://electronicintifada.net/people/ameer-makhoul>Ameer Makhoul
http://electronicintifada.net/content/political-prisoner-hamas-deal-great-step-forward/10552#.TrQsKLLZdBk 


2 November 2011

The 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/prisoner-swap>prisoner 
exchange deal was a major achievement for 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/hamas>Hamas 
and a great step forward for the Palestinian 
people, particularly the prisoners’ movement.

Hamas earned respect and credibility for its 
management of a very complex issue. In 
particular, the entire operation was played out 
on Palestinian land and largely handled in 
Palestine for five years under complicated and dangerous circumstances.

The deal brought joy to the lives of 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/political-prisoners>prisoners, 
their families and all Palestinians living in 
Palestine and abroad. It was a joy combined with 
honor, dignity and the promising spirit of victory.

Veteran prisoners who were not included in the 
deal have endured, along with their families, 
untold pain and suffering. The released prisoners 
and all the Palestinian people sympathize with 
them and understand these feelings.

It is important to highlight, however, that the 
continued suffering of the remaining prisoners is 
not caused by the prisoner exchange deal, but 
rather in spite of it. It is caused by a lack of 
a Palestinian vision for liberation that is tangible and ripe for the moment.

No deal without its limitations

The idea that postponing the prisoner swap could 
have improved the terms of the deal is simply not 
true. On the contrary, postponing could have 
jeopardized the agreement entirely. Such deals 
are done when the timing is right. They cannot be 
rushed, postponed, or determined beforehand.

The prisoner swap deal, or any deal of that sort, 
is not without its limits. One should not expect 
from a deal to liberate all 6,000 prisoners 
languishing in Israeli jails. We should evaluate 
Hamas’ success or failure based on the following 
question: did the movement exhaust all its 
capabilities before signing off on the deal? The answer is a definite yes.

The deal, as it was achieved, is the outcome of 
certain power dynamics, and approving it was a 
legitimate and appropriate action. In the history 
of all struggles and liberation movements, even 
among the victorious, there are losses and 
victims. That does not make the victory any less significant.

Hamas leader 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/ismail-haniyeh>Ismail 
Haniyeh emphasized an important point in his liberation speech in Gaza.

“The borders of historic Palestine ­ Gaza, the 
West Bank, and the 1948 areas ­ are the borders of the prisoner exchange deal.

“With resistance we liberated Gaza. We liberated 
the land and the people,” he said.

Indeed, as Haniyeh claimed, resistance achieved 
what no other track, such as negotiations, was 
able to achieve or even come close to achieving.

Failure of West Bank “leadership”

In addition to liberating the prisoners and their 
families from the burden and suffering of 
imprisonment, the exchange represents another 
important development. The swap exposed a 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/palestinian-authority>Palestinian 
leadership in the West Bank that does not hold 
much promise, as it has no real vision or project 
for liberating the rest of the political prisoners.

It is no secret that this leadership is under the 
illusion that progress is possible without 
resistance, that it will come about as a gesture 
of good faith on the part of Israel. The history 
of the struggle with Israel, however, has taught 
us that the Zionist state will not hesitate to 
commit any crime against the Palestinians, unless 
it is unable to do so or pay the price. The 
prisoners will not be liberated by laws, courts, mercy, or futile negotiations.

The prisoner exchange deal has created a new 
margin of freedom for Palestinians and an 
atmosphere of national reconciliation. It has 
also rehabilitated a supporting Arab role that 
had been suppressed by peace agreements from Camp 
David to 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/oslo-accords>Oslo 
to the so-called Arab Peace Initiative.

It has restored the value of resistance and the 
prospects of liberation, reaffirming that what 
was taken by force can only be restored by force; 
what was taken by occupation can only be restored 
by liberation; and what was taken by 
dispossession can only be restored by return.

Inclusion of 1948 prisoners

Hamas’ insistence on including in the prisoner 
swap deal for 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/palestinians-israel>Palestinians 
living in the 1948 lands is a strategic 
accomplishment. It is not the first deal, 
historically speaking, to include prisoners from 
that part of historic Palestine. It is, however, 
the first deal since the 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/oslo-accords>Oslo 
accords to do so, setting a precedent for the future.

The deal also revealed the multi-strategic role 
that the new 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/egypt>Egypt 
can play in liberating prisoners and restoring 
Palestinian rights, if the political will is there.

Hamas was able to take advantage of Israeli 
public opinion, which pressured the Israeli 
government for the return of the imprisoned 
Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. It withstood 
Israel’s repressive escalation against it, 
against the prisoners movement and against Gaza.

After the deal, the people expect any action by 
the Palestinian leadership on the prisoners issue 
to be connected to the question of their release. 
The goal is to liberate the prisoners and not 
merely to improve the conditions of their imprisonment.

It is no longer acceptable to postpone the issue 
of prisoners or give priority to other issues, as 
is the case with the Palestinian Authority’s 
pointless negotiations, conditioned as they are 
on freezing settlement expansion. The framework 
around the issue of political prisoners, namely 
that there will be no final peace agreement 
without the release of all prisoners, is 
practically a deferment strategy. But 
Palestinians do not want this issue deferred as 
this is an opportunity hastened by the prisoner swap deal.

Israel is taking precautions to prevent the 
capture of its soldiers and to create a deterrent 
policy that includes liquidating Palestinian 
leaders, tightening their grip on prisoners and 
using intelligence and technological assets. 
These methods, however, have been tried, and the 
Palestinian people have remained undeterred.

Nevertheless, one should not underestimate 
Israeli plans, and there is a need to fashion a 
Palestinian strategy to minimize the price paid 
in struggle while maximizing the benefits. This 
requires Palestinian preparedness. There is also 
pressing need for a supportive Arab contingent 
and for investment in 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/turkey>Turkey’s 
role. Since both Egypt and Turkey desire regional 
power status, they can help foster, along with 
popular Palestinian, Arab and international 
solidarity movements, a safety zone that could 
deter Israel, liberate political prisoners and restore Palestinian rights.

Ameer Makhoul is a Palestinian civil society 
leader and political prisoner at Gilboa Prison.

This article is co-published by Beirut-based 
<http://english.al-akhbar.com/>al-Akhbar and translated from Arabic.




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