Rabbi Ovadia Yosef 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu received strong backing for the Gilad Schalit
deal Tuesday night from Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
The rabbi was one
of the first Israelis briefed about the deal when Defense Minister Ehud Barak
visited him on Sunday.
Yosef hosted Schalit’s father Noam in a meeting
Tuesday night that was described as emotional.
“We believe there will be
a majority,” Shas chairman Eli Yishai said. “This is good news for all the
people of Israel. It’s important to the rabbi, who strongly supports it. He
asked the ministers to fulfill the commandment to redeem captives by voting for
Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon met with Yosef the following day
and reportedly warned him against the deal. But he told his associates on the
way into Tuesday night’s meeting that he was undecided.
The other vice
premier, Silvan Shalom, denied reports that he had decided to oppose the deal.
He said he would only make a decision after he heard all the details from
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was leaning toward
opposing the deal at press time.
He told his ministers that they could
vote their conscience on the matter. National Infrastructures Minister Uzi
Landau was expected to oppose the deal.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz,
who vigorously opposed past prisoner exchanges, was expected to support the
Schalit deal, as was the most right-wing Likud minister, Diaspora Affairs
Minister Yuli Edelstein.
“As a former prisoner of Zion, he can’t vote
against such a deal,” a source close to Edelstein said.
Reuven Rivlin said on Tuesday night that in order to authorize the deal he would
call a meeting of the Knesset immediately after the first day of Succot, if
“The decision is difficult and complex, but on this topic, if
need be, the Knesset will gather without delay – even during the holiday,”
Rivlin, who is currently at the European Parliament in Brussels,
“Freeing Gilad Schalit is a national concern of the first degree,
which is important to everyone in Israel. The deep worry over Gilad’s fate is
found in all of us, and I hope and wish to see Gilad come home as soon as
But Channel 2 reported that Netanyahu told the cabinet he
would not bring the deal to a vote in the Knesset despite his past promises to
Knesset Land of Israel Caucus leader Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), who as
coalition chairman, would have to draft a majority for the deal, spoke out
“The Land of Israel caucus calls on government ministers to
reject the agreement to surrender to Hamas,” Elkin said.
“Back away from
the red lines that were crossed by the government, and do not allow terrorists
to be released into Judea and Samaria.”
Elkin asked ministers to “see
before you the many sure-to-be future victims of capitulating to terror and the
wholesale release of murderous terrorists.”
“This is your test,
government ministers, and I expect you to show strength of character and reject
a deal, which the prime minister himself has explained in the past is dangerous
for Israel,” the Likud MK concluded.
The National Union party called a
press conference in which it warned against releasing murderers and accused
Netanyahu of surrendering to Hamas.
“I hope Netanyahu will have the
courage to look in the eyes of the future widows and orphans as a result of this
deal and the families of more kidnapped soldiers,” the party said.
Schalit deal will bring about a third Intifada and whoever votes for it will be
responsible for the blood that will be spilled.”