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September 30, 2016 / 27 Elul, 5776
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Releasing Terrorists as a ‘Gesture for Peace’

A core element of international law is the basic rule of nullum crimen sine poena, or "no crime without a punishment."

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Louis Rene Beres

Louis Rene Beres



Under international law, Netanyahu’s release of Palestinian terrorists, effectively analogous to a mass pardoning of international criminals, implicates Israel for a “denial of justice.” This irremediable implication could have profound practical consequences. Although it is arguable that punishment, which is always central to justice, does not always deter future crimes, any such Israeli freeing of terrorists would still undermine the Jewish state’s binding legal obligation to incapacitate violent criminals from committing any new acts of mass murder.

To be sure, most Israelis remain intelligently opposed to any further government terrorist releases. But, more often than we may care to admit, Israel’s national policies are fashioned in utter disregard of what is actually sensible and proper. In the end, it remains the fragile and no longer defensible private citizen who must pay with his or her own body for the profound foolishness and indecency of a deluded national leadership.

To be sure, neither Binyamin Netanyahu nor Shimon Peres will be taking the bus to work anytime soon.

Louis Rene Beres

About the Author: Louis René Beres (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is professor of political science and international law at Purdue University and the author of many books and articles dealing with international relations and strategic studies.


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