Deputy Minister Would Rather Resign Than See Terrorists Released
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon (Likud) threatened once again to resign his post in the event that the fourth batch of scheduled terrorist releases goes through as scheduled.
"I hope I will not have to resign and that the fourth batch of releases will not take place and I can stay in the Defense Ministry, but if the government decides to release terrorists in exchange for nothing, for the smile of Abbas and Livni, I told the prime minister I would resign my position as deputy defense minister," Danon stated to Arutz Sheva on Sunday.
"I hope I can prevent the release of terrorists - but if not I will stay faithful to the truth. I will not give up on my ideology."
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 terrorist releases, 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.
According to sources close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Netanyahu intends to fire him following his threat - but Danon said on Sunday that his stance is not only a matter of principle, but a matter of looking into the future. According to the Deputy Minister, the decision to keep agreeing to preconditions can open a political Pandora's Box - encouraging terrorist groups to negotiate for other aims or other releases using politics as a front.
Danon also rejected the view that Netanyahu continues to release terrorists as a means of showing the world at large the hypocrisy of the PA. "This duplicity - releasing terrorists, recognizing a Palestinian state, a building freeze. . .this will only lead to more pressure," he noted.