Gilad Schalit 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Ten months after passing their preliminary readings, and years after they were
first filed, bills designed to put pressure on Hamas to release captured IDF
soldier Gilad Schalit will begin to be prepared Monday for their first reading
on the Knesset floor.
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The bills, collectively known as the Schalit Bill,
will be joined together in the process, and sponsors hope the final product will
be ready for the first plenum reading during the Knesset’s Summer
The Knesset’s Interior and Environment Committee will hold the
first hearing on the bill, which proposes changing the prison conditions of
Hamas prisoners as long as the terror organization continues to hold the IDF
soldier in captivity.
Despite the bill’s popularity among MKs, its future
is far from certain. “This bill will correct the absurd situation by which
terror organizations kidnap Israeli citizens as bargaining chips, completely
prevent visits, while members of these terror organizations who sit in Israeli
prisons are allowed to receive visitors,” complained MK Danny Danon in the
introduction to the bill that he sponsored.
Danon’s amendment would
reduce visits to the minimum required by law, permitting only visits by an
attorney and visits by the International Red Cross once every three
Last May, the bills, sponsored by Danon, Marina Solodkin
(Kadima), Yariv Levin (Likud) and Yoel Hasson (Kadima), sailed through
preliminary readings with support from both opposition and coalition members,
leading to a 56-10 victory.
The bills originated in the previous
administration, with the bill sponsored by Solodkin and cosponsored by then-MK
Yuli Edelstein. With the formation of the Likud government, two separate bills –
one filed by MK Danny Danon (Likud) and the second by MK Yariv Levin (Likud) and
MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) – were also filed, but repeatedly failed to win the
support of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.
In May 2010, a deal
was reached by which 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 the Internal Security and Justice
“This bill reflects democracy working to defend itself,” said
Solodkin. “I had hoped that a bill that I started in the last government could
at least be advanced in this current government, which is supposed to be a
But Solodkin noted that, instead, the
government had dragged its feet, both on supporting the bill and then on
bringing it to committee for preparation.
Solodkin would not say that she
was optimistic, but that she hoped that the bill could be passed in its first
plenum reading during the summer, which would allow it to continue to be
legislated even if the government were to fall.