Dov Kalmanovitz, the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem who was wounded in a firebomb attack during the First Intifada, vehemently criticized attempts by left-wing Knesset members to pressure Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu into imposing a construction freeze on Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, in place of a planned terrorist release.
"This is a bad proposal," Kalmanovitz told Arutz Sheva Tuesday. "You do not replace a moral evil by creating another moral evil. Releasing terrorists is a terrible moral injustice, and stopping building in Judea and Samaria is equally morally wrong."
Kalmanovitz adds that the timing this proposal is suspicious. "After releasing 75% of the terrorists, they remember to say Israel should change its tactics?" he asked. "They are taking advantage of the fact that the release of terrorists has soured in the eyes of the public."
Netanyahu Under Pressure
Several MKs from Labor, Hatnua and Shas called on Netanyahu on Monday to swap a new batch of terrorist releases for a construction freeze, in order to advance the ongoing peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).
"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."
Lesser of Two Evils?
Israel agreed to release 104 terrorist prisoners as a "gesture" to the Palestinian Authority (PA) at the behest of the US, in order to get "peace talks" with the PA started. So far, 78 have been released; the final batch is reportedly due to be released on March 28.
This last batch of terrorists to be released 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.
Meanwhile, the PA consistently blames “settlement construction” in the region as being an obstacle to peace, and has demanded that Israel withdraw to 1949 Armistice lines. To that end, Abbas threatened two weeks ago that unless a building freeze was imposed on Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, the peace talks would come to an end.
Abbas has repeatedly said that unless all his preconditions are met, there will be no peace with Israel.