Ariel Center for
Policy Research



NATIV  Volume Sixteen   Number 4-5 (93-94)  ■  Sep. 2003 ■ Elul 5763 ■ Ariel Center for Policy Research





Israel's Freeing of Palestinian Terrorists
Violates International Law

Louis René Beres

From the beginnings of its now decade-long “peace process” with the Palestinian Authority, Israel has agreed to various intermittent terrorist releases. The rationale of these actions is always the same; that is, that there will be a Palestinian quid pro quo in the form of reduced Arab violence against Israelis. Inevitably, however, this turns out not to be the case and freed Palestinian terrorists proceed to join an expanding stream of Arab murderers.

This article points out that Israel’s freeing of terrorists – the latest expression of which is in alleged compliance with the Quartet’s “Road Map” – is not only foolish, but also illegal. Terrorism is a codified crime under international law. No government has any legal right to free any terrorists as a so-called “goodwill gesture”.

International law presumes solidarity between states in the fight against all crime. Whenever an individual state violates this solidarity – as is currently the case with Israel and the Road Map – it implicates itself in a “denial of justice”. This is true even where a particular terrorist release is backed by the United Nations. All states, even when they are consciously seeking peace, are subject to the persistently overriding claims of “peremptory” norms – rules that usually derive from what is commonly called “Higher Law” or the “Law of Nature”. The obligation to seek out and punish terrorists is such a peremptory norm. Significantly, the origins of this Higher Law lie in Ancient Israel.



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