PM scrambles to get ministers' support on prisoner release

Decision to release Palestinian prisoners likely to pass cabinet vote by PM Netanyahu's party won't make it easy for him. Habayit Hayehudi to vote against move, Yesh Atid, Hatnua to back Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is using all of his political power to pressure Likud ministers into backing the release of Palestinian prisoners ahead of Sunday's cabinet vote.


However, it appears he will face some opposition within his party. Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz announced Saturday that he will vote against the move.


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"I am against releasing murderous terrorists. It hurts the bereaved families and encourages terror," he told Ynet. The Habayit Hayehudi 's three ministers will also oppose the proposal.


However, it now appears that the decision will pass: out of 22 ministers, including Netanyahu, 10 will likely vote in favor, four will oppose and the rest are still undecided.


Earlier on Saturday, a state official confirmed that the cabinet will vote on the decision on Sunday and that a ministerial committee headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will finalize the details at a later stage.  


Yisrael Beiteinu , which ran on a joint ticket with the Likud in the recent elections, will allow its four ministers voting freedom.


Yesh Atid and Tzipi Livni's Hatnua are slated to back the move. But the extent of support in the Likud remains unclear. Some ministers refused to comment on the issue, knowing that a "no" vote will greatly embarrass the prime minister.


But such divisions in his own party may well serve to Netanyahu's benefit who could portray himself as one who takes bold steps despite opposition.


In a statement issued Saturday, Netanyahu said that "prime ministers must from time to time make decisions that go against public opinion, when it is important for the country to do so."


The Prime Minister's bureau said that the proposal has not been finalized yet. It is also unclear what powers the ministerial committee will hold. "The committee will be authorize to approve the identity of the prisoners throughout the negotiations and they will discuss who will be released, when, and at what stage of the negotiations," a source said.


Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett spoke with bereaved families on Friday and told them "I am the last person who needs convincing against the release of murderers."


A message posted on his Facebook page said, "Terrorists should be killed, not freed. I have spent my life fighting to uphold these two sentences. Tomorrow I will vote 'no'."



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פרסום ראשון: 07.27.13, 23:35
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