Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu
on Wednesday slammed the cabinet decision
to release 199 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
"The government had decided to release prisoners, and I ask why? For what? What did we receive? This crossing of a line, this release of murderers, is a dangerous move in the war on terror," the opposition leader told Knesset during a special summer hiatus session.
The Knesset held a special discussion on "the release of terrorists and murderers without any return and the diplomatic amateurism of the Olmert-Livni-Barak government."
Netanyahu said during the discussion that contrary to the government's claim, releasing prisoners does nothing to bolster Abbas.
According to the Likud chairman, "This weakens Israel and strengthens the terror elements. Most of the public – a huge part of the public – understands that this is faulty and reflects weakness and loss of way. The government has lost its way, assuming it actually had a way to lose."
Netanyahu argued that the government suffers from an ongoing diplomatic and security-related failure.
"In the field of security what we see is one failure after another, from the Lebanon war,
through the agreements which followed the war, through Hizbullah's
rearmament, through the firing of rockets on our communities, and of course through the 'tahadiya' (temporary ceasefire) which allows Hamas
to continue arming itself. Now you can add the terrorists' release to this ongoing failure."
He added that the government was also failing in the education field. "Jabotinsky must be returned to the education system. This government's education system removes Jabotinsky and returns the (Palestinian) 'nakba'. I call on the prime minister – he is still the prime minister – to return Jabotinsky. We'll stop this gallop of abandoning values and bring a real reform in education."
The opposition leader went on to attack the government's conduct in the economic field. "After picking the fruits of the growth we brought, the government is about to lose it. The tsunami is on its way. This is bad news for Israel's economy. Security cannot be established without economy."
Deputy Foreign Minister Majalli Whbee replied on behalf of the government, saying that "I've heard of a memory of a fish, but Netanyahu thinks the people have a memory of only a few seconds.
"Some 200 terrorists were releases, two of them with blood on their hands. Unfortunately, we have gotten used to terror organizations kidnapping soldiers, and they demand to release prisoners… If we released 200 prisoners, it's certainly better than releasing them in exchange for the kidnapping of soldiers."
According to Whbee, "We won't give this award to anyone who tries to abduct soldiers. This government will do everything in order to prevent kidnappings. We hope (kidnapped soldier Gilad) Shalit
returns home. We will have to pay there as well… We are bolstering the pragmatists."
Addressing the accusations in regards to the economy, the deputy foreign minister said, "I heard Netanyahu, and no one is taking his credit for leading the economy. This government still maintains the line. How can we face the global changes in economy?"
Likud faction chairman, Knesset Member Gideon Sa'ar, also slammed the decision to release prisoners, mentioning that some of them have "blood on their hands."
"These are the pragmatic elements the Israeli government is bolstering," he said.
At the end of the session it was decided that the issue would be discussed by the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.