Bayit Yehudi MK and Knesset faction chairwoman Ayelet Shaked joined demonstrators Sunday to protest the prime minister’s plan to release terrorist prisoners ahead of talks with the PA.
At the rally, organized by the NGO “My Israel,” founded by Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett, Shaked told reporters, “The prime minister wasn’t elected to make difficult decisions; he was elected to make the right decisions.”
Shaked was referring to an open letter to Israel’s citizens written by Netanyahu on Saturday evening, in which he explained why he felt he had to agree to the release of 104 terrorist prisoners with Jewish blood on their hands as a “gesture” accompanying “peace talks” with the Palestinian Authority.
Netanyahu said he expects the talks to last at least nine months.
“Prime ministers are occasionally required to make decisions that are contrary to public opinion, when the matter is one of importance to the state,” Netanyahu stated in the letter. “There is no need for prime ministers, in order to make decisions that enjoy the support of public opinion....
“This is a tremendously difficult decision to make. It hurts the bereaved families, it hurts the entire nation of Israel and it hurts me very much,” he continued in the letter. “It collides with an exceedingly important value – the value of justice.... The decision is doubly personally difficult for me, because I am my family know personally the price of bereavement from terror. I know the pain well,” he added.
Nevertheless, said Shaked on Sunday, “The government forgot why we are here and how to stay here. It started with giving in to terror in the Shalit deal and continues with surrendering to the Americans. For what?” She added that although Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard killed no one, and shed no blood, he is still sitting in a prison, decades later, despite appeals even from the prime minister himself.
Israeli espionage agent Jonathan Pollard, convicted in the United States 27 years ago on a single charge of spying for a friendly country – Israel – is serving a life sentence in prison, she pointed out. Despite endless appeals from international and domestic political and religious leaders, his sentence has not been commuted and he has not been granted clemency. Though a plea bargain had been arranged, the judge was handed a note at his trial and Pollard was sent to prison on a charge of treason – rather than the charge of spying for a friendly nation, a crime that carries a maximum penalty of two to four years in prison.
“America is a strong country that knows how to stand up for its interests, but when America demands that we release murderers that killed children, and soldiers and elderly people and mothers, we’re stupid, give in to terror and to [PA Chairman Mahmoud] Abbas,” she declared bitterly.
Bayit Yehudi MK Yoni Shetboun commented that if the government releases the terrorists, his party should quit the coalition.
“The Bayit Yehudi does not belong in an Israeli government that frees terrorists with blood on their hands,” he stated. “That would be giving in to terror and turning our backs on bereaved families. A government that ignores its values so quickly just to enter negotiations will not think twice before uprooting communities.”
Bayit Yehudi MK Motti Yogev went farther. “Would the government also release murderers and rapists in the heart of Tel Aviv? Did the U.S. ever release murderers to give in to terror?”