Politicians Uneasy Over Pollard Deal
Several politicians expressed reservations over a rumored deal to exchange longtime captive Jonathan Pollard for several hundred Palestinian Arab terrorists on Tuesday, citing concerns over security, Zionist principles - and even the wishes of Pollard himself.
Finance Committee chairman MK Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home) expressed disbelief at the deal Tuesday afternoon, while on a visit to the Hevel Yavne Regional Council
"This cannot be that the Americans call to release terrorists when they hold, on their land, a prisoner [Pollard] who is neither a murderer nor a terrorist," Slomiansky stated. "Releasing murderers breeds more terrorism, no sane country would releasing murderers to allow them to murder its citizens again."
Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) slammed the idea of a deal, especially in the context of reports that it would necessitate a building freeze in Judea and Samaria.
"This is a shameful deal, I would recommend to my fellow MKs not to approve this deal," he said in a radio interview Tuesday afternoon. "The Americans themselves do not conduct negotiations with murderers and terrorists and they want us to release such prisoners, this is a shame. I'm not just speaking about [President Barack] Obama abusing Pollard; [Pollard] has been there for 30 years."
Earlier Tuesday, Tourism Minister Uzi Landau also slammed the exchange.
"I also voted against releasing murderers during the Gilad Shalit deal," Landau stated, in an interview with Channel 10. "And we keep falling down a slippery slope. My hair stands on end when I hear we are planning to release Pollard in such a deal. Why should we swallow a cyanide pill that happens to be sugar-coated?"
MK Danny Danon (Likud) reiterated reservations about the exchange Tuesday morning.
"It turns out we are now caught in a conflict between the cynicism of Kerry and the morality and logic of Pollard and Israeli society," Danon wrote, in a Facebook post. He reminded readers that Pollard himself has asked not to be exchanged for terrorists, citing risks to Israel's security.
Danon continued to slam the deal as rumors surfaced of Israel's acceptance Tuesday afternoon.
"We all want to see Jonathan Pollard home already, but not for the wholesale release of terrorists," Danon fired. "Freeing terrorists will turn Abbas into a powerful Arab leader in Israel and we will pay with a lot of blood in the future."
On Monday, Deputy Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) stated that while Israel has an obligation to secure Pollard's release, he is against the idea of releasing a large batch for the sake of a single prisoner.
"If there is a chance to fulfill the State of Israel's moral obligation to Jonathan Pollard, I'd be willing to give them many terrorists, if it would make them happy," he continued. "I do not understand why Americans are happy over murderers being released, but that's their problem."
Elkin also clarified that his position on Israel's obligation to Pollard, in his opinion, is not the same as its obligation to protect IDF soldiers. As such, he said, he would only agree to such a deal if it were "a one-to-one ratio or close to it," and is opposed to "insane deals like we made with [Gilad Shalit]."