[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"
2 November 2011
exchange deal was a major achievement for
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
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.
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
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
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
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
accords to do so, setting a precedent for the future.
The deal also revealed the multi-strategic role
that the new
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
Israels 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 Authoritys
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
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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