Bennett: Fourth prisoner release must be renegotiated

Gov't approval of prisoner release made under assumption of good faith in talks with Palestinians, who have offered nothing in return, says economy minister.

Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett.
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said that he would demand the renegotiation of the fourth release of Palestinian prisoners, in an interview on Israel Radio on Thursday.
Although the government approved the release of the prisoners in four waves, he said, the decision was made with the assumption that peace negotiations would be conducted in good faith.
The Palestinians demand the release of prisoners without anything in return, other than participating in the negotiations themselves, said Bennett. Their declaration that they will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state proves there is no chance of reaching a deal with them, he added.
Bennett also told Israel Radio that an overwhelming majority in the government oppose the release of Israeli-Arab prisoners.
The government has remained adamant in refusing to free Arab citizens of Israel in the prisoner releases.

The Palestinians have said they would leave the negotiating table if the Israeli Arab prisoners are not released. However, there is currently no majority in the Israeli cabinet to release them.

Meretz MK Zehava Galon, whose interview with Israel Radio directly followed Bennett's, said that Israel cannot violate its commitment to release Palestinian prisoners.
If the United States wants to save the negotiations, she said, it must release Jonathan Pollard in return for the release of jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Bargouti.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently asked Washington to mediate with Israel for the release of Barghouti, who was jailed 10 years ago for a spate of suicide bombings.