Expressing satisfaction at the defeat of a law that would have prevented the release of terrorists by the government, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said that “Today, we have again made it clear that the government, as opposed to some of its members, is working on behalf of the interests of the state, and not according to the interests of cynical parties or the rabbis of Judea and Samaria.” Livni did not specify which party she meant, but it was widely assumed she was referring to Bayit Yehudi.
The law, proposed by MK Orit Struk, was rejected for Knesset legislation by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation. Had it been approved, the law would have likely prevented a release of terrorist prisoners set for this week, as the Knesset has already debated the law and approved it in an initial reading. A release of additional terrorists is set for Tuesday. The release is part of a deal Israel made with the Palestinian Authority over the summer, a “gesture” to tempt the PA to return to talks with Israel. The government is set to release 26 PA terrorists on Tuesday under the terms of renewed peace talks. The first group of 26 terrorists was released in August.
Arutz Sheva has learned that the bill was supported by ministers Uri Ariel, Uri Orbach, Yitzchak Aharonovich, Sofa Landver, and Yair Shamir. Opposing were all Likud and Yesh Atid ministers, including Yuval Steinitz, Gideon Sa'ar, Limore Livnat, Gilad Erdan, Yair Lapid, Yael German, Yaakov Peri, and Hatnua head Tzipi Livni. As a result, the law was shelved. The ministers opposing the law to prevent the release said that they were siding with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who also opposed it, claiming that it would “limit the government's freedom to act on diplomatic issues.”
Livni, who heads the Israeli delegation to the talks with the PA, railed against the proposal, calling it “irresponsible, especially at such a critical juncture when we are finally talking with the PA.” Livni has been conducting secret talks with PA officials, and the government has not given any hint as to what concessions she may be proposing.
“The government is pushing the peace process forward,” Livni said after Sunday's vote. “The peace process is in the national and security interests of Israel. We have the responsibility to act on these interests, as do all members of the government, including those who will attempt to retroactively deny their responsibility that they were a part of – whether by agreeing, remaining silent, or conditioning the release of these terrorists on other elements, such as further construction in Judea and Samaria.”
According to sources, the government reportedly intends to sweeten the bitter pill of the prisoner release by announcement of new construction in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem – as it did when it released the first batch of terror prisoners in August.