Livni, Elkin refuse to advocate Schalit release deal

Captive soldier's family appeals to MKs to sign letter calling for Hamas prisoners' release in exchange for Gilad Schalit.

July 6, 2011 15:58
2 minute read.
Tzipi Livni at a live Q&A session, Sunday.

tzipi livni_311. (photo credit: Idan Gross )

The Schalit family traversed the Knesset’s hallways on Wednesday to request that MKs sign a letter calling on the government to release Hamas terrorists in exchange for captive soldier Gilad Schalit.

Opposition leader MK Tzipi Livni (Kadima) refused to sign the letter, on the grounds that she does not join petitions or protests.

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“Livni refrains from publicly commenting on a Schalit deal, in order to avoid turning it into a political matter,” a Kadima spokesman explained. “She told the Schalit family that, as a high-ranking minister at the time Gilad was captured, she sees herself as responsible for his captivity.”

Coalition Chairman MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) refused to sign the letter, as well.

“I consistently oppose any deal that includes a mass release of terrorists. Such a deal will only encourage further kidnappings and may cost dozens – or even hundreds – of Israeli citizens’ lives,” Elkin said.

He added: “Political and public pressure will only make clear to Hamas that they do not have to rush to make a deal [with Israel]. In my opinion, pressure needs to be put on the international community, which will in turn put pressure on Hamas.”

Elkin also said that the government should stop sending funds to Gaza in order to convince Hamas to release Schalit.

Meanwhile, MK Yariv Levin (Likud) did not sign the letter after a 30-minute meeting with the Schalit family.

“Public pressure is not effective at this stage, and will only lead Hamas to toughen its stance,” Levin said.

The Likud MK added that the best way to negotiate Schalit’s release is to worsen Hamas terrorists’ conditions in prison.

MK Ronnie Bar-On (Kadima) also refused to sign the letter.

However, Kadima MK Meir Sheetrit signed the petition, saying that he hopes it “gives the prime minister the support necessary to make a deal and free Gilad.” Sheetrit added that his daughter died of cancer years ago, and he can identify with the Schalit family’s pain.

The petition was started by the Gilad Schalit Knesset Caucus, which is led by MKs Shaul Mofaz (Kadima), Miri Regev (Likud) and Eitan Cabel (Labor), with a goal of obtaining 61 MKs’ signatures.

So far, the caucus leaders, MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz), and Kadima MKs Ronit Tirosh, Orit Zuaretz, Doron Avital and Sheetrit have signed the letter.

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