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National Union Chairman Yaakov Katz Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
National Union Chairman Yaakov Katz Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
 
Yishai. Letter to PM Photo: Gil Yohanan
Yishai. Letter to PM Photo: Gil Yohanan
 
 

National Union: Prisoner release a ticking time bomb

Members of right-wing party meet with bereaved families, terror victims' groups in Jerusalem, say setting Palestinian prisoners free to secure Gilad Shalit's release may prove disastrous. Shas leader Yishai wants Jewish murderers freed as well

Kobi Nahshoni
Published: 02.17.09, 13:57 / Israel News

Israel's intention to release Palestinian prisoners as part of the deal to secure the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit is "a ticking time bomb that may decimate Israeli society," the National Union said Tuesday.

 

Members of the right-wing party met with bereaved families and terror victims' groups in Jerusalem, and called on Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu to voice his objection to such a move aloud; especially if it included the release of prisoners "with blood on their hands."

 

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National Union Chairman Yaakov Katz said that past experience has proven that Palestinian prisoners released by Israel resume their terror activities: "(Prime Minister) Ehud Olmert planted a bomb which may completely decimate Israeli society. We will form a committee bent on fighting this move."

 

Katz suggested the government either mount a military campaign to retrieve the Hamas-held soldier, or increase the financial pressure put on the Islamist group.

 

Party Knesset Member Uri Ariel added that "we are all Gilad and we are all the Shalits, which is exactly why we say the government would not be able to wash its hands of this 'blood.' This is not a new situation and we are familiar with the results."

 

Ariel added that he knew of senior Likud members who shared the National Union's sentiments and called on Netanyahu to "get out of the closet and speak clearly."

 

Rami Igra, former head of the Mossad's captive and MIA department who also attended the meeting, spoke of past prisoner exchange deals Israel has agreed to: "We need to keep a moral view for the long run. We have to envision those who may be killed because of the release to terrorists and not just the person held in Gaza right now."

 

Yehudit Dasberg, who lost her daughter in a shooing attack in 1996, called the nearing prisoner release "governmental licentiousness Israelis mustn’t put up with. The national interest must precede the Shalit family's personal interest. Every family must do all that it can to get their son back, but the government must protect the entire country."

 

As for Netanyahu's apparent silence on the matter, Dasberg said that she had spoken to Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu members "and they all said this was one 'hot potato' Bibi would rather see Olmert handle."

 

Yishai: Release Jewish murderers as well

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai sent a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other senior ministers on Tuesday, demanding that if Israel releases Palestinian terrorists it must also release Jewish killers whose actions were nationalistically motivated.

 

"Many Israelis wonder why Israel will not release Jewish prisoners who have been sentenced for actions carried out because of the security situation. These prisoners have admitted their wrongdoing and have expressed remorse," he wrote.

 

Yishai also asked that an urgent discussion be held on the matter, ahead of the possible release of Palestinian prisoners as part of an exchange deal with Hamas for Gilad Shalit.

 

"We believe that releasing terrorists does not contribute to Israel's defense or to its diplomatic situation. We have seen on many occasions how Palestinian prisoners resumed hostile terrorist activities against Israel once released," he continued, noting that the government has already freed hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in the last two years.  

 

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