Harriet Sherwood refers to jailed Palestinians who Abbas wants released as “political prisoners”

Harriet Sherwood’s April 9 report, about recent efforts by US Secretary of State John Kerry to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, included several passages about concessions demanded of Israel by Mahmoud Abbas before he will agree to resume negotiations.

Ahead of a three-hour session with Kerry on Tuesday morning, Netanyahu stated that he was “determined not only to resume the peace process with the Palestinians, but to make a serious effort to end this conflict once and for all”.

But he has refused to meet the Palestinians’ key precondition of freezing settlement expansion, although it is thought that Israel may avoid announcing any new construction projects in the coming weeks.

The Palestinians also want the release of 123 political prisoners who have been in jail since before the Oslo accords were signed almost 20 years ago, and for Israel to present a map showing proposed borders. [emphasis added]

However, according to reports, most of the 123 Palestinians she’s alluding to (whose release Abbas has been demanding since last year), were convicted for their involvement in deadly terror attacksSherwood’s characterization of the 123 Palestinians as “political prisoners” – suggesting that they were imprisoned merely for their beliefs – is not true. 

For instance, one of the pre-Oslo prisoners evidently on the list presented by Abbas – and dutifully characterized as a “political prisoner” by the NGOs Adalah and Addameer – is Walid Dakka (alternately spelled as “Daka” or “Dakah”).  Dakka is an Israeli Arab (“Palestinian citizen of Israel”) who was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1986 (later reduced to 35-40 years) for his involvement in a PFLP cell which kidnapped and murdered an Israeli soldier named Moshe Tamam two years earlier.

On the road between Neurim and Netanya near Havazelet Hasharon, Moshe Tamam’s family built a monument in his honor:



The inscription reads:

“A memorial for our son the soldier, the beloved and dear Tamam Moshe. We will remember him forever. Born on June 13, 1965 in Havazelet , Hasharon. He was kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by terrorists. He was only 19 years old. 

‘A gazelle lies slain on your heights,  O Israel. How the mighty have fallen!’”  [2nd Samuel, chapter 1, verse 19]

If you’re wondering why Sherwood decided to use such language about Palestinian prisoners, the following passage – from a recent NYT story about Maysara Abu Hamdiya, the convicted terrorist who died of cancer on April 2 – may shed some light:

Prisoners in Israeli custody hold an honored place in Palestinian society, with many Palestinians regarding even compatriots convicted of deadly terrorist acts as political prisoners and fighters for the Palestinian cause

Sherwood was, intentionally or otherwise, legitimizing the Palestinian narrative which glorifies terrorists and consistently characterizes even those prisoners convicted of the most gruesome crimes as ‘victims’ of Israeli oppression. 

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