Members of the Knesset Lobby for Gilad Schalit demanded on Tuesday that Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu release Palestinian prisoners to secure Schalit’s
return to Israel alive.
In a motion for the Knesset agenda on the topic
of “Five years since Gilad Schalit was captured,” MK Eitan Cabel (Labor), one of
the lobby’s founders, said that if a deal to release the soldier isn’t struck
soon, Schalit will die in captivity.
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“Excuse me for using such strong
language, but a year ago, I was against a [prisoner exchange] deal,” Cabel
“Suddenly I realized – we are leaving Gilad Schalit for dead.
There’s no other way to describe it.”
“Gilad Schalit is in captivity for
five years,” he added. “I didn’t realize how long that was until I saw
five-year-old children going to kindergarten.”
According to Cabel, “there
is no other way to act than to pass a law for Schalit’s release. Otherwise, he
will die in captivity.”
Likud MK Miri Regev called for Israel to worsen
conditions for Hamas prisoners as long as the terrorist group does not allow the
Red Cross to visit Schalit.
She cited a report that Hamas does not see
any hope in the negotiations for Schalit’s release, and plans to make the
“Do you know what Gilad Schalit’s disappearance
means?” Regev asked. “We should make Palestinian prisoners disappear. Not just
from their families, but from their lawyers and from the Red Cross.”
no other country do terrorists receive such VIP treatment as in Israel,” the
Likud MK added. “It can’t be that they’ll enjoy themselves in prison while Gilad
Schalit sits for five years while no one knows what is happening to him, or to
“The right thing to do is to worsen the conditions of security
prisoners,” Regev said, adding: “Look at Jonathan Pollard! He isn’t even a
terrorist, and his conditions are worse.”
Regev also advocated releasing
Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Schalit.
“I know it is not easy,
but we have a responsibility to the thousands of people who enlist in the IDF
every year,” she explained. “If we’re afraid that they’ll return to terror, the
Shin Bet and other agencies will take care of them, as they have in the
“A child is not born with a price tag,” MK Orit Zuaretz (Kadima)
told the plenum.
“We have been discussing the right price, but Gilad is
in captivity five years already. We have to give answers to his parents,
and to the thousands of parents who send their children to the army each year –
but we don’t have an answer. We failed.”
Zuaretz said the government has
not put enough pressure on other countries, which could place the responsibility
for Schalit’s captivity on the Palestinian Authority, and demand that the Red
Cross be allowed to visit the soldier.
In reference to releasing
Palestinian terrorists from prison, Zuaretz said: “We can deal with them later –
the first step is to bring Gilad home.”
Environmental Protection Minister
Gilad Erdan represented Netanyahu in the discussion, saying that the prime
minister has asked every world leader he met with to help secure Schalit’s
“The prime minister understands the pain and frustration, because
when it comes to bringing results, we failed,” Erdan said.
explained that the government’s “most generous offer – perhaps the most generous
offer ever given in a prisoner exchange” was rejected because Israel would not
agree to allow released Palestinian terrorists to return to the West
When asked whether the government would ask the PA to help release
Schalit, Erdan said: “The Palestinian Authority is more moderate aalek,” using a
slang word for “as if.”
The minister also said that he supports Regev’s
suggestion to worsen conditions for Palestinian prisoners, and proposed a
similar bill in the past.
At the end of the discussion, 11 MKs voted in
favor of adding the topic to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
None opposed or abstained.