As calls escalate to prevent the fourth batch of Palestinian Arab terrorists from being released, support has been declared from an unlikely person: a bereaved mother.
Ayelet Shahak, whose daughter Bat-Chen was killed in the March 4, 1996 Dizengoff Center bombing in Tel Aviv, stressed in her declaration Sunday that the releases are necessary - but only if they actually advance peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).
"Despite the understanding given to the pain of families whose loved ones were killed in attacks and suicide bombings, if this batch of the upcoming release of terrorist killers will help promote peace, I am in favor of it," Shahak stated.
She explained that despite her own family's tragedy, if there is a real chance to progress towards a lasting peace agreement then Israel should make a supreme effort, including the release of murderers, "in the hope that such an agreement will prevent other families from going through what we went through over the past 18 years, after our eldest child was murdered."
The bereaved mother also added that relatives of terror victims should not have to hear about the planned release of the murderers of their loved ones from the media. Rather, Shahak stated, a state representative and a social worker should visit the bereaved families' homes, and disclose the release plans in private.
Israel agreed to release 104 terrorist prisoners as a "gesture" to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and a precondition to ongoing peace talks. So far, 78 have been released; the final batch is reportedly due to be released on March 28.
The fourth batch of terrorist releases has sparked considerable controversy, as MKs point out that the previous releases have done nothing to further talks, and that several of the released terrorists have contributed to the increase in terror attacks over the past year.
PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat stated earlier this month that Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was staying in talks solely for the sake of the released terrorists, prompting Israeli officials to reconsider completing the deal.
A senior diplomatic source told Voice of Israel public radio Tuesday that if it turns out, in the coming days, that talks have reached a dead end, Israel will reconsider the release of the fourth and last batch of terrorist murderers.
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon (Likud) declared that he would resign his post if the government went ahead with yet another round of releasing terrorists. Sources close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded to Danon’s threat by saying that even if he does not resign, Netanyahu will fire him.