Construction in Efrat
Construction in EfratIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Embracing the idea that “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has told the relevant ministries to publish tenders for the sale of 1,400 housing units in the disputed heartland of the Jewish state next week, to coincide with the release of 26 terrorist murderers, according to Maariv-NRG.

The news site quotes diplomatic sources as saying 600-700 homes will be sold in Jerusalem, apparently in Ramat Shlomo, and the rest of the units marketed will be in Judea and Samaria, most likely inside the “settlement blocs.”

Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) criticized the plan in a joint press conference Thursday with Health Minister Yael German at Ziv Hspital in Tzfat. “It was wrong to connect the matter of the prisoner release to the announcements of construction in Judea and Samaria,” said Lapid.

MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud-Beytenu) used stronger language, calling the linkage between the release of murderers and the construction of new homes “a moral infection and a prostitution of the value of settling in the Land of Israel.”

MK Feiglin wrote on his Facebook page that in the course of his visits with Jonathan Pollard, the jailed Israeli agent told him “I refuse to be released in exchange for terrorists. I would rather die in jail than see a single Jew murdered by a terrorist who was freed in exchange for me.”

The Palestinian Authority's “minister for prisoners” told Maariv-NRG that “the equation of releasing prisoners in return for construction in the settlements is unacceptable to us.”

"Unlike the release of prisoners, which advances the peace process and creates hope in people's hearts regarding the possibility of reaching an agreement, construction in the settlements destroys the possibility of progress [in talks] between the sides," he said.

The Supreme Court rejected on Thursday a petition seeking a temporary restraining order on the third batch of 20 terrorist murderers set to be released early next week as part of peace talk "gestures." The planned release has evoked strong protests.

"With all due understanding of the petitioners' pain, their petition does not raise any legal ground for intervention. The claims have been raised and ruled on in the past," stated the judges.

Petitioners had called for the establishment of clear criteria regarding the release of terrorists, and the cessation of terrorist releases until then.