A rather contentious "fact", considering that at least some of them are on land that we privately own...
The Wikipedia article I linked in my previous post has this to say:
The international community considers the settlements in occupied territory to be illegal. Israeli neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and communities in the Golan Heights, areas which have been annexed by Israel, are also considered settlements by the international community, which does not recognise Israel's annexations of these territories. The United Nations has repeatedly upheld the view that Israel's construction of settlements constitutes violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The International Court of Justice also says these settlements are illegal, and no foreign governments support Israel's settlements.
So my "contentious" view is only that of the relevant international institutions.
How can murderers going free possibly be a positive development?
What I originally said was that ideally neither side would be holding prisoners. This is true of any society, because ideally
there wouldn't be crime - or, to relate it to this case, the best case scenario would not include a conflict that would cause crime that results in prisoners.
But I also said that releasing prisoners is a step in the right direction, and by that I mean that it builds bridges and achieves small victories for the two sides in the negotiations, thus taking the process forward. As for whether the prisoners are generally held on any charges that would be upheld by an international trial, my suspicion is that both sides have some cases right and others wrong, but I haven't studied these particular cases at all so I wouldn't know.
We've emptied settlements for less.
I should have acknowledged this is my post.
EDIT: I seem to be launching a derail here. To prevent it escalating further I'll point out that I spoke of the legality
of the settlements, not any sort of moral justification for them. I don't want to argue about whether Israeli law trumps international law, so if someone wants to claim that the settlements are legal I'll agree to disagree, on the grounds that we're arguing different points.
ANOTHER EDIT: On reflection I shouldn't have mentioned the legality of the settlements at all - merely that the international community and Palestine see them as an obstruction to further negotiations. From this post on I'll restrain myself to that point of view.
edited 15th Aug '13 5:33:20 PM by BestOf
Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur.