Bennett: I would not free one murderer for the right to sit with Abbas

Bayit Yehudi leader convinced PM won't free prisoners as gesture.

July 14, 2013 10:31
1 minute read.
Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett.

Bennett taking pictures on giant imaginary camera 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday responded to reports that Israel is considering releasing Palestinian security prisoners as a gesture to restart peace talks, saying that he would "not free one murderer in exchange for the right to sit with Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas]."

Speaking in an interview with Army Radio, Bennett made it clear that he would not allow "those who murdered Jews" to be released, but refused to pronounce that he would leave the coalition over such a decision. "I don't make political declarations, I act when the time comes."

The Bayit Yehudi leader stated that he is "convinced" that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would not "allow the release of murderers."

There has been no formal announcement of terms for renewed talks, but there have been repeated media reports of the possibility that Israel would release Palestinian prisoners and/or agree to some kind of a settlement freeze.

According to a report in the the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry's peace plan includes an Israeli commitment to release 103 Palestinians imprisoned before the signing of the Oslo Accords within six months of the start of talks.

Bennett stated that until the Palestinians recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, all efforts to restart negotiations were "a waste of time."

He slammed Justice Minister Tzipi Livni for suggesting that Israel would be labeled "an Apartheid state" in the international media in the absence of a two-state solution. He stated that there was no push to boycott Israel, but there could be if Livni continued to warn of such a possibility publicly.

Bennett said that in his recent trip to China, "they didn't mention the Palestinians once...they want our technology, our hi-tech like the rest of the world does."

Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.

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