Terrorists are released (archive)
Terrorists are released (archive)Israel news photo: Flash 90

The government must let the public know what principles are guiding it in planning mass terrorist releases, says the Movement for Quality Government watchdog group.

The group has turned to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in light of the government’s decision to release 104 terrorists, and has demanded that he reveal the findings of the Shamgar Committee, which advised the government on guidelines for terrorist release.

Arutz Sheva spoke to Attorney Eliad Shraga, head of the Quality Government group, about the hidden Shamgar report.

The report was commissioned years ago, during the captivity of soldier Gilad Schalit in Gaza. The report was to guide the government in its decision regarding whether or not to release terrorist prisoners in order to win Schalit’s freedom, and if so, how many prisoners and which ones.

The committee reached its conclusions, but those conclusions were never made known to the public, Shraga explained. At the time, with negotiations for Schalit’s release underway, the government may have had reason not to publicize its guiding principles, he said – but today, the report’s continued secrecy is a violation of the principles of democratic governance.

Publishing the report would have a benefit beyond conformance with ethical government, he added: it would let Israel’s enemies know where the limits are, so that they do not assume they can ask any price for an Israeli captive.

“Let them know the rules of the game. Them and us, also the families of future victims of terrorism, G-d forbid, and the families of future Israeli captives, G-d forbid,” he urged.

While the report was commissioned primarily to provide clarity in negotiating for the release of Israeli hostages, it is likely to have discussed the issue of terrorist release as a “good-will gesture” as well, Shraga said. If it did not, then the public deserves to know that the report is not guiding Netanyahu in his latest decision, he argued.

When asked if publishing the report could increase public pressure on Netanyahu, Shraga said, “If he has a backbone and does not cave to pressure, things will be clear.”

“Everything is clear for the Americans,” he added. “They are no less democratic than us, and they do not negotiate with terrorists even if they see a Marine decapitated on television.”

Israel used to have a similar rule not to negotiate with terrorists, he noted. The famous Entebbe raid, in which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s brother was killed, was carried out in order to return captives without negotiating with the hostage-takers.