Jewish Home chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett said on Thursday that Israel should create leverage against terror organizations, instead of releasing terrorists imprisoned in Israel.
Speaking to Radio Darom, Bennett brought as an example the idea of kidnapping terrorists and enemy soldiers as a leverage tool, noting that Israel has taken measures of this kind in the past.
“We were on the offensive, we went and created assets. We need to create leverage to release the bodies of our soldiers,” he said.
Asked about recent reports of a deal with Hamas to release the bodies of missing IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, Bennett replied, “I do not know of such a deal. My policy has been consistent over the years, total opposition to disproportionate deals stipulating the release of terrorists. Certainly not terrorists for dead bodies, that is absurd.”
This past week, Israeli media reported that the Hamas terror organization is demanding Israel free dozens of terrorists as a precondition to negotiations for the release of Goldin and Shaul's bodies.
A senior Israeli official quoted by the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper said that Hamas had demanded that at least 50 terrorists prisoners be freed as a precondition to talks over the return of Israelis held captive in Gaza.
Goldin's relatives later responded to the reports and blamed the Israeli government for squandering a “golden opportunity” to use the reconciliation talks with Turkey to pressure Hamas.
“Israel had a golden opportunity last week to change the equation, and to use the deal with Turkey to pressure Hamas to pay the price and return the bodies of Hadar and Oron,” the Goldin family said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, instead of pressuring our enemies, [the government] revealed its impotence, letting Hamas earn a reward for holding the bodies in captivity. While our soldiers are held in Gaza, Hamas prisoners [in Israel] enjoy the standards of a hotel, sitting around watching the Euro [soccer tournament].”
Following the reports, senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh denied that there were any negotiations with Israel for the release of the bodies of the soldiers.
“There will be no negotiations with Israel regarding a prisoner swap before the release of all prisoners who were freed in the Shalit deal from Israeli prisons,” Haniyeh said in comments quoted by NRG.