Ex-Minister Slams ‘Unprincipled’ Prisoner Release

Former minister slams Netanyahu, says terrorist release was about political survival, not principles.

Maayana Miskin ,

Celebration at previous prisoner release
Celebration at previous prisoner release
Flash 90

Former Minister of Internal Security Moshe Shahal has slammed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for his decision to free terrorist killers. In an interview with Al-Monitor, Shahal accused Netanyahu of letting the terrorists go free for personal political gain.

Shahal served in the government led by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin – the government that signed the Oslo Accords.

At the time that the accords were signed, there was a committee that determined which Arab terrorists could safely be released, and which could not, he said. Those who were released this week by Netanyahu were on the “do not release” list, he revealed.

"For an entire week, we sat almost every night. We reviewed 3,784 files. We held an in-depth discussion on every single candidate. We examined the essence of the crime, its characteristics, severity, and the number of people harmed as a result of the crime,” he explained.

“It was a substantive and meticulous examination, and I am stunned to see that all the prisoners about to be released in one fell swoop were those we had determined not to be appropriate for release."

They should not be released even today, 20 years after Oslo, he argued. Shahal accused Netanyahu of agreeing to the prisoner release not out of principle, but because he wanted to avoid a building freeze in Judea and Samaria, believing it would endanger his coalition.

A construction freeze would have appeased Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas even if no prisoners were freed, he said.

"I ask myself these last few days what would have happened if a left-wing government had made such a decision? The Likud in the opposition would have torn us apart; blood would have flowed in the streets. That bothers me very much,” Shahal told journalist Mazal Mualem.

“A proper state with principles does not operate this way,” he argued.

Rabin’s government also firmly refused to release Israeli-Arab prisoners, he noted. He recalled a conversation with senior PLO member Nabil Shaath, “I told him, ‘You can’t interfere in an issue connected to Arab citizens of Israel… the moment we allow such a thing, the significance is that you do not actually recognize the state of Israel.”