A group of MKs on Monday sent a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in which they urged him to freeze construction in Judea and Samaria instead of releasing terrorists, so that the peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA).
The letter was signed by MKs from the Labor, Hatnua and Shas parties. It was initiated by MKs Hilik Bar and Omer Bar-Lev, both from the Labor party.
"Before the negotiations with the Palestinians began, Israel was given the option of choosing between one of two gestures to the Palestinians. One Israeli gesture was to freeze construction in the settlements. The second option was the release of terrorist prisoners in several batches,” wrote the MKs.
"Unfortunately," they continued, "the government chose the gesture of releasing terrorists and not the other gesture it was offered - a settlement freeze."
The MKs called on Netanyahu to “replace the gesture” and freeze construction in Judea and Samaria.
"Mr. Prime Minister, a freeze on construction can always be stopped and ‘unfrozen’, but you cannot go back after releasing terrorists, especially as there is a danger that those released will resume terrorist activities and will continue to attack Israeli citizens," they wrote.
A construction freeze, they claimed, “will calm down many of those on the Zionist right and support bereaved families."
MK Bar added in the letter, "I call on the right-wing bloc to prove that its cries against the release of terrorists are really important to it as they are for us, and to agree to freeze construction immediately."
Besides MK Bar-Lev and MK Bar, the letter was signed by MKs Eitan Cabel (Labor), MK Shelly Yechimovich (Labor), MK Nachman Shai (Labor), MK Moshe Mizrahi (Labor), MK Stav Shafir (Labor), MK Itzik Shmuli (Labor), MK Erel Margalit (Labor), MK Mickey Rosenthal (Labor), MK Michal Biran (Labor), MK Avishay Braverman (Labor), MK David Tzur (Hatnua), MK Yaakov Margi (Shas) and MK Yitzhak Cohen (Shas).
The letter comes amid U.S. efforts to continue the peace talks beyond an April deadline which Secretary of State John Kerry has admitted would not be enough to secure a final deal.
Netanyahu has come under pressure from his ministers to cancel the upcoming release of the final batch of 26 terrorists that Israel agreed to release as a “gesture” to the PA, since PA officials have clearly stated that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was staying in talks solely for the sake of the terrorist releases.
Abbas has consistently said that unless all his preconditions are met, there will be no peace with Israel.