Officials in the Likud said on Thursday night that if Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett wants to leave the government, no one will stand in his way.
The officials spoke after Bennett unequivocally declared that his party will leave the coalition if Israel agrees to release Israeli-Arab terrorists as part of a framework agreement to extend peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA).
"We are not keeping anybody in the government by force," the officials declared.
"This is a well-known method used by Bennett: to make threats when it is clear to him that they are false threats that will not come to fruition," they added.
Bennett said earlier that there was no reason for Israel to agree to release terrorists after the PA applied to join 15 international agencies in a direct breach of the conditions of the peace talks.
“The emerging deal, if it includes the release of murderers with Israeli citizenship, harms Israeli sovereignty, and not only that - it is being done when the Palestinians have not cancelled their requests to join international organizations,” he said.
"Therefore, if a proposal for release of Israeli murderers comes before the Cabinet, the Jewish Home will oppose it,” Bennett declared. “If the proposal will pass - the Jewish Home will resign from the government, which frees murderers with Israeli citizenship. Enough is enough.”
Bennett’s comments came hours after it was reported that a deal freeing Jonathan Pollard in exchange for Israeli-held Arab terrorist convicts and an extension of peace talks will be carried out in the coming days.
The deal was reported on Channel 2 and Channel 10. Al Arabiya also reported that the deal was about to be finalized. A U.S. official later denied the reports.
On Wednesday, Bennett called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to annex parts of Judea and Samaria, in response to the repeated failure of peace talks with the PA.