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Avigdor Lieberman Photo: Gil Yohanan
Avigdor Lieberman Photo: Gil Yohanan
 
 

 

Lieberman to oppose Shalit deal

Yisrael Beiteinu chair says impending repercussions of prisoner exchange too grave, force him to oppose deal 'with a heavy heart'

Attila Somfalvi
Published: 10.11.11, 23:31 / Israel News

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday that he will enter a "nay" vote on the Shalit deal. Lieberman said his decision – "made with a heavy heart" – stems from the grave repercussions the deal will have on Israel.

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called an urgent session of the cabinet on Tuesday, after Israel and Hamas were able to reach an agreement that would end the captive soldier's five-year ordeal.

 

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As part of the deal, Israel will release some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, including those directly involved in murderous terror attacks that have claimed the lives of hundreds of Israelis.

 

Lieberman noted that he will not impose party discipline among Yisrael Beiteinu ministers, because "this is the sort of issue that needs to be decided individually, according to one's personal understanding and conscience."

 

National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau is also expected to oppose the deal; while Vice Premier Silvan Shalom said he will reserve his decision until all of the facts are presented to the cabinet.

 

Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the majority of the Likud ministers are expected to support the deal, but some of the cabinet ministers are expected to abstain in the vote.

 

Shin Bet Chief Yoram Cohen told the cabinet that he supported the deal: "I understand the complexities of the deal. We are paying a price. Hamas will undoubtedly depict this as an achievement and a victory on its behalf. There's no question about that."

 

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz and Mossad Chief Tamir Pardo reviewed the security aspects and implications of the deal and both recommended its implementation.

 

Shas declared that it will support the deal. Gilad's father, Noam Shalit, met earlier with Shas' spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and it's chairman Eli Yishai.

 

Israel's chief rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar issued a joint statement in which they welcomed the prisoner exchange deal: "We call on the people of Israel to pray for Gilad, and hope that the joy will not be accompanied by any sorrow or damage from the consequences of the deal," the rabbis wrote.

 

'Netanyahu capitulated to Hamas'

The National Union Party, which is not a member of the cabinet, blasted the deal: "No one can be surprised that Netanyahu caved in to Hamas. The man who once tried to teach the world how to fight terror and why one should never give in to it has failed miserably when it was time for actions.

 

"The government's capitulation to Hamas will bring the third intifada upon us and the innocent blood spilled will be on the hands of those who supported the deal.

 

"We only hope he has the guts to look the widows, orphans and bereaved families in the eye," the statement said.

 

The Parents Circle, which represents Israeli and Palestinian bereaved families, issued a statement supporting the deal: "We hope that the cabinet approves the deal and that Gilad will come home soon. As those personally familiar with loss, the Parents Circle knows that life are to valued more than death.

 

"The Parents Circle supports the deal as part of the realization that resolving conflicts can be achieved even at the cost of releasing murderers… Gilad's safe return supersedes any revenge."

 

Omri Efraim contributed to this report

 

 

 

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