Committee delays Hamas prisoners' bill, but Danon vows to see it pass

Committee delays Hamas p

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
October 25, 2009 22:58
1 minute read.

The so-called Gilad Schalit bill was delayed for a fourth time Sunday by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation. Committee members explained that security and negotiation concerns justified pushing back the vote on the bill, which would limit privileges granted to Hamas prisoners to approximate the conditions imposed upon captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit. But the bill's sponsor, MK Danny Danon, told The Jerusalem Post that he was taking steps to find a backdoor to the Knesset plenum for the legislation, which has been waiting coalition approval since early in the summer session. "The time is passing, Schalit is still a prisoner, and every week 2,500 Hamas prisoners receive visitors," complained Danon. Danon said that a majority of ministers have expressed support for the bill when outside of the committee, but when voting, cave in to pressure from the security forces and the Prime Minister's Office. Netanyahu's office said in July, after the last time the bill was delayed, that he opposes the bill, pending the results of a committee headed by Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman that is setting new rules for handling prisoners in a more organized way, in coordination with the police, Prisons Service and the State Prosecutor's Office. To make the bill comply with international law, Danon included clauses guaranteeing Hamas prisoners visits from the Red Cross and their lawyers, though Schalit has never been given such basic rights. Now, after the bill's fourth delay, Danon is searching for a creative way to bring the bill to a preliminary vote on the Knesset floor. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) torpedoed Danon's attempt to present the bill under the heading "legislation without a faction's support," and Danon cannot present the bill as a private member's bill without an opposition co-signer. Danon said that instead, he is searching for an opposition MK to sponsor similar legislation, allowing him to then merge his bill with the newer legislation, and then sponsor it as a private member's bill. Danon is currently weighing between enlisting opposition MKs from the right-wing National Union or the left-of-Likud Kadima to sponsor a newer version. He emphasized that he found that the bill enjoyed support among members of both parties.


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