The Minister for Senior Citizens, Uri Orbach (Bayit Yehudi) denied Wednesday that his party was to blame for the release of terrorist murderers, because it had preferred such a release to a construction freeze, when the US pressured Israel to make a “gesture” for restarting “peace talks.”
"This is just a crass lie that people are repeating over and over again,” he said. “There was no buffet out there, at which we could choose between a release and a freeze. This government opposes a freeze and opposes a return to the 1967 borders.
"What Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] wants is to release their prisoners, and all the rest is intended to deflect attention. There was never a single moment at which we had to choose between these things. Even if it is repeated 200 times, it is still a lie,” he insisted.
The prisoner release was intended as “maintenance” for the negotiations with the Palestinians, he said, “and this is a very high cost for maintenance.”
Orbach fended off attacks against Bayit Yehudi, regarding its supposed hypocrisy in attacking the terrorist release, when it is part of the government that is carrying it out.
"It does not stand to reason that the release of depraved murderers would pass completely quietly,” he said. Asked why Bayit Yehudi tried to pass a law against future terrorist releases, if it would not have affected the present release anyway, he said, “I think there is an obligation to protest even if there is no immediate result on the ground.”
He rejected Minister of Interior Gideon Saar's demand that the Bayit Yehudi MKs resign from the government if they do not like what it is doing. “We are Gideon Saar's partners, not his lackeys,” he said. “We will decide whether or not to resign, and over what issue.”