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Akunis: Govt. Misled Me on Terrorist Release

Deputy Minister claims officials involved in negotiations intentionally misled him.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 7/28/2013, 4:22 PM

Заместитель министра Офир Акунис
Заместитель министра Офир Акунис
Flash 90

Deputy Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) apologized Sunday for wrongly rejecting reports that Israel planned to release terrorists as a “good-will gesture” under American pressure.

“I want to apologize to the bereaved families who understood from the parliamentary response that I gave in Knesset three months ago that there is no plan [to free terrorist prisoners],” he said.

Akunis said he had been given incorrect information. “I am deeply sorry that professional sources who were involved in negotiations misled me,” he declared.

Akunis, who is in charge of oversight of ties between the government and Knesset, expressed opposition to the terrorist release, which the government is voting on Sunday. “The decision to release despicable murderers is mistaken in every way,” he stated.

“I am not a minister in the government and I do not have the right to vote, but if I did, I would not hesitate to vote against this,” Akunis said.

In April, Akunis spoke from the Knesset podium, and said, “There is no Israeli decision to release terrorists.” American pressure regarding terrorist release “would not help,” he declared.

In July, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu revealed that he plans to free over 100 terrorist prisoners as a gesture to the Palestinian Authority in advance of negotiations. The terrorists would be freed over the course of several months, in order to keep PA leaders at the negotiation table.

Many of the prisoners who would be released are murderers, including several who murdered young Israeli children.

At least two ministers said Sunday that they will vote for the initiative “with a heavy heart.” Others say they will oppose it.