Five ministers, from Habayit Hayehudi and Yisrael Beiteinu, voted in favor, while eight ministers, from Yesh Atid and the Likud, opposed the bill, which was proposed by Habayit Hayehudi MK Orit Struck.
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Before the vote, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conversed with Minister Tzipi Livni and said: "I intend to put an end to this irresponsibility." He assembled Likud ministers and told them to vote against the bill.
Addressing the ministerial opposition to he prisoners' release, Livni said "I have been a member of several governments; there were decisions I opposed, but as soon as the government makes a decision one cannot slam the government or other ministers.
"Today we have seen that the government, despite the best attempts of one of its member parties, acts according to national interests and not those of Yesha rabbis. The government is promoting a diplomatic process which falls on the shoulders of all its ministers, even those who accepted it in silence or in return for (settlement) construction," Livni said.
Policy should not be dictated by terrorists
Finance Minister Yair Lapid also commented on bill, saying "This is – and I am mincing words here – an irresponsible bill whose only goal is public relations. Those citing recent security events to explain why prisoners should not be released are in fact saying that the government's policy should be dictated by terrorists."
Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mandelblit said: "All the ministers were aware of the heavy price involved in prisoners' release before it was voted on… the government saw nine months of negotiations ahead, and everyone knew it wasn’t just a one time release of 26 prisoners.'
Habayit Hayehudi noted its intent to appeal the rejection of the bill. According to a statement issued by the party: "It is a sad day for the fight against terror. We will continue to use all our power to block the release of murderers. We are very surprised that Likud ministers voted against this bill." the statement said.
Commenting on the failure to pass the bill, MK Struck said: "104 prisoners are being released for nothing. I'm sure that in truth almost all of the ministers taking part in (Sunday's) committee agree with it, including (Justice Minister and committee chairwoman) Tzipi Livni who voted against the Shalit deal. It is shameful that they voted against their conscience, I only hope they get a grips on themselves before the next vote."
The bill, penned by Struck, said that: "The decision to release prisoners, which was made by the government as part of what was referred to as a 'political gesture,' takes the authority to pardon prisoners out of the hands of the president." The proposal argued that by assuming presidential responsibilities, the government ignores the legislators' will.
"The collective release of prisoners," as opposed to individual review of each pardon, "makes a mockery of the presidency by making it a rubber stamp to cabinet decisions."
Attila Somfalvi, Gal Ben Haim and Chen Zausmer contributed to this report
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