We have never supported Israel’s release of terrorists in exchange for Israelis, dead or alive, who were captured or killed by Israel’s enemies. These exchanges simply bolster the terrorists’ morale and even lead directly to murder. A terrorist released in exchange for Gilad Shalit subsequently murdered another Israeli. A terrible, but not surprising, consequence of these exchanges.
Now comes the news that Israel has released a Turkish woman arrested by Israel for allegedly transferring funds to Hamas, reportedly as part of a deal to free an American pastor unfairly held in Turkish custody. Bad as the release is, there is an additional twist. The Washington Post reports that President Trump asked Israeli PM Netanyahu to secure the release of this woman. Bad move. Bad precedent — not just because it is always a bad move to accede to these negotiations with terrorists. Beyond that, it is bad to follow Trump’s lead unwaveringly, even though he has demonstrated genuine support for Israel.
The true test of the Trump-Israel relationship will come in Syria. For Trump to pull America’s military personnel out of Syria would leave the country open to Iranian troops and Iranian weapons, which have only one purpose: to threaten Israel. Trump wants to remove those personnel. His own top military brass do not agree. Israel does not agree. And Israel may be put in the position of having to oppose Trump on Syria in a blunt, confrontational, adversarial way. Neither Israel nor the US can afford a second Lebanon, stocked to the hilt with Iranian missiles aimed at Israel. It is not good for Israel to see itself as always acceding to a request from President Trump. It would be far better for Trump to get used to the idea that not everything that he wants is good for Israel or necessarily will be acceded to by Israel.
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