Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said on Monday evening in response to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's request to to US President Barack Obama to release more prisoners that "Israel must respond with one word: no!"

Katz said he would work to prevent the realease of terrorists, especially Fatah politician Marwan Barghouti, who has been convicted in Israel on five counts of murder and sentenced to five life sentences.

"It was a mistake to release the murderers from before the Oslo process in return for starting the talks and it would be moral bankruptcy to release Barghouti and his friends to continue the talks."

Deputy Education Minister Avi Wortzman (Bayit Yehudi) called upon Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to hold another cabinet vote before the fourth round of prisoners are expected to be released March 28.

"Such gestures did not lead to any progress with the Palestinians until now but did increase acts of terror," he said.

"Another round of prisoner releases would be much more dangerous than its predecessors, because prisoners who live in Israel are set to be included. It would only encourage more Israeli Arabs to follow the example of these terrorists who would be considered heroes."

Former minister Dan Meridor (Likud) told Army Radio on Monday that "the demand to recognize israel as a Jewish state is a comedy of errors."

He said it as a pity that something unimportant has taken center stage.

"The argument should be over why we are building neighborhoods in territories we know we will not keep,"
he said.

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