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Foreign Minister Urges Knesset to Make Decision on PA Policy

Liberman slams wishy-washiness in Israeli policy toward terrorist releases after last-minute rejection of landmark bill.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 5/13/2014, 1:03 PM

Avigdor Liberman
Avigdor Liberman
Flash 90

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) called on the Israeli government to examine the Shamgar Commission’s rulings Tuesday, in response to continued crisis in the coalition over the possible release of more Palestinian Arab terrorists. 

"The Shamgar Commission’s conclusions are a systematic treatise to how to act in this situation,” Liberman noted, “and everyone agreed at the time that there should be certain policy guidelines.”

“All of this releasing terrorists started when we made the administrative decision to exchange our captives for terrorists,” he continued. “Whenever we released terrorists to Hamas control in Gaza, we had to make a similar ‘gesture’ to [PA Chairman Mahmoud] Abbas so as not to weaken our relationship with him.” 

The Shamgar Commission, headed by former Supreme Court President Meir Shamgar, filed recommendations in 2012, regarding prisoner releases in the context of negotiations for captives like Gilad Shalit. As Former IDF Chief Rabbi Avihai Ronski noted in October, the Commission warned against terrorist releases as a matter of state policy. 

Liberman also slammed the hypocrisy of Abbas, who has made several statements to the media decrying the abysmal state of the PA’s budget on the one hand, and paid thousands of dollars to convicted terrorists on another. 

“We were wrong in the message that we give to the Palestinians,” Liberman stated. “One day we announce that that we’re stopping with ‘gestures’ and begin to collect their debts - but over the next week, we tell them that we’ll return the money we decided to collect ‘and it will be fine.'” 

Liberman's remarks have also been seen as an indirect response to a storm in the Knesset overnight, after Science and Technology Minister Ya'akov Perry (Yesh Atid) filed an appeal to a landmark bill enforcing life sentences for terrorists.

The bill changes one of the Basic Laws of Israel, which form the basis for the formation and role of Israel's institutions, and the relations between the state's different ministries and authorities.

The Basic Law of the President of the State, passed in 1964, allows the President to pardon all convicted criminals - at least until now.

The new amendment would change this rule, preventing any convicted terrorist from being pardoned for his crimes under certain conditions. The amendment seeks to allow the judges of the court during trials for nationalist murders, terrorist activity or any other heinous crime, to negate at the time of sentencing the possibility of providing future amnesty.

But Perry's appeal would severely limit the Knesset's ability to advance the bill into law, essentially burying it before it can be brought to the Cabinet for approval.