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No Remorse: Freed Palestinian Terrorist Tells Reuters the Rabbi He Plotted to Kill Deserves to Die

After his release from Israeli prison Sunday, former Palestinian prisoner Salah Hamouri gave a revealing interview to Reuters.

Hamouri was arrested, convicted and imprisoned in 2005 for plotting to assassinate the former chief rabbi of Israel and prominent spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. Hamouri was one of the 550 prisoners Israel released over the weekend to complete the deal it negotiated in October with Hamas for the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

A member of the militant Marxist-Leninist group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Hamouri says he and his two accomplices were right in aiming to kill Yosef, who is now 91-years-old.

Hamouri says he still believes Yosef deserves to die, Reuters reports:

Israel asks most Palestinian prisoners it frees ahead of serving out their sentences to sign a pledge forswearing future involvement in violence, but not all stick to their word.

Hamouri's lack of repentance seemed an example of how the symbolic swap which initially stirred some optimism, wound up changing little on the ground, where conflict, fueled by months of diplomatic stalemate, persists.

Interviewed at his home in the West Bank, Hamouri cited hateful remarks made by Rabbi Yosef in the past as justification for sticking to his own militant views.

"This man is and will remain a symbol of racism and fanaticism in Israel," Hamouri said.

Rabbi Yosef stirred controversy in August 2010 when he said in a sermon that God should strike Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other “haters of Israel” with a plague. Reuters quoted him then:

"Abu Mazen and all these evil people should perish from this earth," Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual head of the religious Shas party in Israel's government, said in a sermon late Saturday, using Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's popular name.

"God should strike them and these Palestinians -- evil haters of Israel -- with a plague," the 89-year-old rabbi said in his weekly address to the faithful, excerpts of which were broadcast on Israeli radio Sunday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu distanced himself from those comments. "The comments do not reflect Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's view or the position of the government of Israel," Netanyahu's office said last year in a statement.

Ironically, it was Rabbi Yosef himself who gave the green light for his would-be assassin’s early release. Because Hamouri is a citizen of France, since 2009 French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been asking the Israeli government to release him as a “goodwill gesture.” After the Shalit deal was reached and Hamouri’s name was one of those considered for early release, the Netanyahu government punted the question to the rabbi who, after meeting with the French ambassador, approved the release. According to Ynet, Hamouri was serving out the last months of his sentence.

This isn’t the first time one of the released prisoners has stated they’d commit their terrorist act again. This kind of talk seems to be the rule, not the exception, which is not surprising in light of the powerful and consistent messages of incitement from both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

A new book “Deception: Betraying the Peace Process,” by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik of Palestinian Media Watch provides evidence of the glorification of terrorism by senior Palestinian Authority officials. By contrast, when the same officials speak to the West they present a peaceful image. The authors offer multiple examples of summer camps, sports tournaments and other events named after terrorists by the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Another example in the book demonstrating the honor granted to families of terrorists: the Palestinian Authority Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Karake bestowed an award on a Palestinian mother, Latifa Abu Hmeid whose four sons were serving 18 life sentences in Israeli prison. Handing her the “Shield of Resolve and Giving,” Karake said:

“The Palestinian mother is a central partner in the struggle, by virtue of what she has given and continues to give. It is she who gave birth to the fighters, and she deserves that we bow to her in salute and in honor.”

More examples from the book can be seen on GBTV in a December 7th interview Glenn Beck conducted with author Itamar Marcus.

The now released prisoner Hamouri’s attitude and criminal activities might be acceptable in Palestinian society but are not in Europe, raising the question: why did the French government intercede on his behalf in the first place? Fluent in French, he told Reuters he wanted to travel to France to personally thank those who campaigned for his release.

"Freedom represents life, and to be free now, surrounded with my friends and family, I feel alive and hopeful again," he said.

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