Gilad Schalit 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
MKs who drafted bills to pressure Hamas to release captured IDF soldier Gilad
Schalit met Monday to try to further their legislation, and were told that
Schalit’s grandfather, Tzvi, asked MKs to remove his grandson’s name from the
In the course of the Interior Committee meeting to
debate the bills, Committee Chairman David Azoulai (Shas) blasted the government
for its unclear stance on the legislation.
On Monday morning, prior to
the meeting, the elder Schalit contacted one of the bills’ sponsors, MK Danny
Danon (Likud), to ask that the name of the bill be changed, and that the bills
only take effect after Schalit’s release is secured.
The bills, which
propose to severely restrict the conditions of Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails
to the minimum legal standard, passed their preliminary readings 10 months ago.
Sponsored by Danon, Marina Solodkin (Kadima), Aryeh Eldad (National Union),
Yariv Levin (Likud) and Yoel Hasson (Kadima), the bills enjoyed wide support
among opposition and coalition MKs – but was met with reluctance by the
In May 2010, a deal was reached that the government would
support the bills on the condition that they be advanced to further readings
only “in concert and consultation” with the government, and with the Internal
Security and Justice Ministries.
Since then, the government has worked to
delay hearings on the legislation, according to Interior Committee Chairman
David Azoulai (Shas).
“I am surprised by the fact that the government
gave approval to advance the bill through its preliminarily reading, but is now
working both with me and with the bill’s sponsors to delay it,” complained
Azoulai. “The government’s behavior is unacceptable. It must make a bold
decision as to whether it supports the bill or does not – but unfortunately, it
does not do so.”
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“The government’s policy regarding the law to prevent
family visits for jailed Hamas prisoners – as long as Schalit is being held –
testifies mostly to hesitation and fear,” complained Eldad. “For five years, we
have been told that the topic should be addressed ‘quietly.’ That’s what they
have said for 25 years regarding [Jonathan] Pollard. In the final results, the
government has failed.
“In order not to raise public fury, the government
agreed to pass the bill in its preliminary reading, but prevents it from
advancing,” he continued.
“The government cannot, of course, surrender to
Hamas’s demands – but it also refrains from applying pressure on
Azoulai turned to Government Secretary Tzvi Hauser to coordinate
among the various relevant ministries to come up with a clear government
position on the legislation by the opening of the Knesset’s Summer Session,
scheduled for May.
If the government fails to reach an understanding by
that time, Azoulai threatened that the committee will begin work on the bill,
with or without, a government opinion.
During the Monday meeting, MKs
agreed that the various bills would be unified into one coherent piece of
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