Israel is threatening to cancel the release of Palestinian prisoners if terrorism against its citizens in the West Bank continues, a key government minister warned on Sunday.
Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom, who is a member of the ruling Likud faction, told Israel Radio on Sunday that more attacks like the incident in the Psagot settlement that left a nine-year-old girl lightly wounded would prompt the government to reconsider its decision to free Palestinians who served lengthy jail sentences for violent crimes committed against Israelis.
Israel released a group of 26 Palestinian prisoners on August 13 as a gesture to the Palestinians ahead of the renewal of peace talks. The cabinet voted in July to release a total of 104 Palestinian prisoners in stages over the next nine months as part of the diplomatic negotiations.
"The ministerial committee is not a rubber stamp committee, and it has the power to rescind the release of more prisoners," Shalom told Israel Radio.
The minister said that the current Israeli government would not adopt the motto of late premier Yitzhak Rabin, who advocated negotiating with the Palestinians as if there were no terrorism and fighting terrorism as if there were no negotiations.
Shalom's colleague, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, told Israel Radio that the incident in Psagot proved that the release of Palestinian prisoners was a mistake.
Katz said that the government should insist on a new formula for peace talks with the Palestinians, which thus far have been conducted "under the threat of terrorism."
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas "hasn't lifted a finger" to prevent attacks and incitement against Israel, Katz continued.
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