(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.
Noam Schalit: Gov't hasn't pressured Hamas in 5 years
NGOs slammed for failing to call for Schalit’s release
“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
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
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
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
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
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.