Following the slaying of two IDF soldiers in three days, dozens of Knesset members, including deputy government ministers, have signed a letter calling on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to cancel all planned releases of terrorist prisoners as part of a series of "goodwill gestures" to the PA.
26 out of a list of 104 convicted terrorists - many of whom are responsible for the murders of Israeli civilians and soldiers - have already been released in an Israeli concession to the PA.
But a petition - initiated by Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party chairwoman Ayelet Shaked and MK Robert Iltov (Likud-Beiteinu) - has been signed by MKs from across the political spectrum, including Deputy Ministers and MKs from the Likud, Shas, UTJ (United Torah Judaism), Bayit Yehudi, and Hatnua parties.
Members of Knesset from Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party refused to sign the letter.
"In light of the appalling murders which took place in the last few days, we are asking to cancel the planned release of terrorists as part of negotiations with the Palestinians," the letter reads.
"It cannot be that a country which values life should release murderers, whilst at the same time, as negotiations are ongoing, acts of terrorism continue."
MK Shaked has fiercely criticized the policy of releasing convicted terrorists under any circumstances in the past, claiming recently that murderers were actually better off being declared as "terrorists" than criminals, as terrorist murderers have a far better chance of being released early.
“The government's recent policy of releasing terrorists wholesale has brought us to a difficult situation where a single terrorist can bring the state down to its knees, Shaked said on Sunday, following the murder of IDF soldier Tomer Hazan by a terrorist whose motivation was to trade the 20 year-old off duty soldier's body for his brother, who is currently serving a sentence in Israel over terrorism charges.
The letter is similar to another one submitted to the Prime Minister yesterday, in which a number of government ministers called for an immediate meeting with the PM to discuss the government's policy on releasing terrorists, following the murders of Tomer Hazan and Gal Kobi.
“In recent days, we have witnessed two difficult murders that took the lives of two soldiers – Tomer Hazan and Gal Kobi. As a result, we demand an immediate government meeting on the policies regarding the release of terrorists,” the letter said.
That previous letter was signed by ministers Uri Orbach, Uri Ariel, Naftali Bennett, all of Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home); and Yisrael Katz, Uzi Landau, Sofa Landver, and Yair Shamir of Likud-Beiteinu.
Today's letter has so far garnered 30 signatures of deputy ministers and Members of Knesset.
From Bayit Yehudi: deputy ministers Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan and Avi Wertzman, and MKs Ayelet Shaked, Moti Yogev, Zevulun Kalfa, Shuli Muallem, Orit Struk, Nissim Slomianski, and Yoni Chetboun. The party's three senior government ministers, including party head Naftali Bennet, already lent their signatures to yesterday's letter.
From Likud-Beiteinu: deputy ministers Ze'ev Elkin, Ofir Akunis, Danny Danon, Tzipi Hotoveli and Faina Kirshenbaum; and MKs Robert Iltov, Shimon Ohion, Orli Levi-Abukasis, Yariv Levin, Moshe Feiglin, Miri Regev and David Rotem.
From Hatnua: MK David Tzur.
From the opposition: Shas MKs Eli Yishai, Yitzhak Vaknin, Nissim Ze'ev and Avraham Michaeli; and UTJ MKs Yisrael Eichler, Eliezer Menachem Mozes and Meir Porush.