Daily Israel Report

Ben-Ari Tells Peace Now Head He'd Trade Him for Schalit

Heated debate between former MK Ben-Ari and far-left Oppenheimer of Peace Now at Bar Ilan University conference on release of terrorists.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 11/13/2013, 10:19 AM

Ben-Ari, Kedar, Oppenheimer
Ben-Ari, Kedar, Oppenheimer
Yair Goldshtof
Heated debate broke out during a conference Tuesday night at Bar Ilan University on the subject of releasing terrorists to further peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA). Former MK Michael Ben-Ari said to Yariv Oppenheimer, head of the extreme-left group Peace Now, that he would gladly have replaced Gilad Schalit, who was held captive by Hamas for five years, with Oppenheimer.

The conference, organized by Bar Ilan's Student Union, also featured participation by Meir Indor, head of the Almagor organization which aids terror victims, and was chaired by Dr. Mordechai Kedar, scholar of Arabic literature and Islam at Bar Ilan.

Ben-Ari attacked the idea that if Israel will "be nice" and release terrorists there will be peace, saying that releasing terrorists is immoral, legitimizes their horrific acts, and gives motivation for continued terror.

He added that the PA Arab who murdered 3-month-old infant Hadas Fogel and her family in 2011 "burst out laughing after being given 5 life sentences" for good reason, feeling secure he would be released. 

In late October the Israeli government released a second batch of 26 terrorists. Ben-Ari showed up at Ofer Prison to protest the move, saying that terrorists should be killed instead of released.

Oppenheimer said that "given the political reality it was very clear that if we want negotiations with the Palestinians it comes with preconditions," claiming the unofficial preconditions were that the PA stop violence and continue "cooperating," not taking any unilateral moves at the UN, while in response Israel would free terrorists.

Oppenheimer opined that he preferred freezing building in Judea and Samaria to terrorist releases, even though a building freeze apparently is also already occurring at certain levels.

In response, Ben-Ari pointed out that "when speaking of peace with Arabs we first need to see them making peace among themselves." His reference targeted the "Arab spring" which has led to general instability and violence in the Arab world, particularly in Syria where the conflict has left over 120,000 dead since November 2011.

The former MK concluded by saying "I will not lose my country either in war or in peace because I have no other country."

At the conference on terrorist release, Bar Ilan University Yair Goldshtof