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      ‘No Plan to Release Terrorists under U.S. Pressure’

      Deputy Minister Ofir Akunis rejects reports that America is pushing Israel to free terrorists as a ‘good-will gesture.’
      By Maayana Miskin
      First Publish: 4/24/2013, 4:15 PM

      PA Terrorists
      PA Terrorists
      Israel news photo: Flash 90

      Israel is not planning to release terrorists as a good-will gesture to the Palestinian Authority, deputy minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) said Wednesday, speaking from the Knesset podium.

      “I am not authorized to, and am not interested in, responding regarding the American position,” Akunis said. “But I am certainly able to respond regarding Israel’s position – there is no Israeli decision to release terrorists!”

      “I also believe and hope that there will be no pressure in this matter, because pressure would not help,” he added.

      There had been media rumors that Israel was planning to free terrorists. Terror prisoners have been freed in “good-will gestures” in the past, and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has demanded terrorists' release as one of several pre-conditions to negotiations.

      MK Orit Struk (Bayit Yehudi) had asked to discuss the matter in Knesset in wake of the media reports. “Everyone remembers that even the negotiations to free terrorists in order to return kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit led to a heated public debate, all the more so when we are talking about a ‘gesture,’” she said.

      Struk continued, “Releasing terrorists, beyond the fact that it heightens unrest and means a heavier burden for the defense establishment which endangered its combatants’ lives to catch the terrorists, also makes a mockery of the Israeli justice system and the principle of justice that whoever engaged in terrorism and killing will be released only when his sentence is over.”