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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about whether Israel should release its Palestinian prisoners, thoughts on the passing of columnist Mel Maddocks, and the political tumult in Canada.

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Israel should release Palestinian prisoners

Regarding the Dec. 15 Opinion piece, "Israel's plan to free Palestinian prisoners is foolish – and illegal": Author Louis Rene Beres's argument, while sound on the surface, is predicated on two myopic assumptions about the situation.

First, he asserts that "No government has the legal right to free terrorists as a goodwill gesture." His condemnation is based on the grounds that Israel, and every other state, has a responsibility to punish terrorists. However, his quote from the Nuremberg Principles reveals his mistake – these principles are a product of a war crimes tribunal. There has been no such tribunal for the Palestinians, who Professor Beres asserts are terrorists. To call them terrorists without proof, and continue to hold them captive, is an injustice.

Second, Israel has yet to conform to international law in many other ways. The occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is not justified by international law. The presence of Israeli settlers on the West Bank is, itself, a war crime. I do not doubt that many of the alleged terrorists being released were detained on Palestinian land by agents of a foreign government. The fact that Beres does not acknowledge this precursor to the "crime" being committed in releasing these people calls into question his commitment to the law and justice in this commentary.

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