Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home/Bayit Yehudi) clarified Friday morning that his party will not assist in releasing hundreds of terrorists, including murderers with Israeli citizenship, for the resumption of negotiations with Abbas.
"Resigning from the government is an option and not an obsession," Ariel told Channel 2. "We'll talk about it during the day [Friday] to see where we stand."
Minister Ariel added that "the reality we find ourselves in is far from what we imagined. We told that to the Prime Minister several times in the past two weeks but since then, he has only renewed negotiations under worse conditions. We will examine where we want to go [next], as we are not willing to sit in the government [now] at any cost."
Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett threatened to resign from the government if Arab citizens of Israel were released in a possible agreement to trade longtime captive Jonathan Pollard for the release of hundreds of Arab terrorists.
"Israel has been facing a new situation in recent days, with the Palestinian appeal to the UN which flagrantly violated all the agreements with them since the Oslo Accords until today,” Bennett stated Thursday. “The emerging deal, if it includes the release of murderers with Israeli citizenship, harms Israeli sovereignty, and not only that - it is done being when the Palestinians have not cancelled their requests to join international organizations."
"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."
Likud officials shrugged off the challenge late Thursday night, saying that Bennett's membership in the government makes no difference.
"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."
Ariel, specifically, has insisted multiple times that he is against continuing peace talks. Earlier this month, he said that Jewish Home would not accept the status quo in talks.
"I say clearly - we will not accept continued negotiations with the Palestinians if they do not withdraw their appeal to the UN,” he declared, in a meeting with the Tekuma faction earlier this month. "We will continue to protect the citizens of Israel and the Land of Israel and we will not compromise on the security of the state and its citizens."