Ministers nix Bayit Yehudi bid to ban Palestinian prisoner releases

Bayit Yehudi plans to appeal Legislative Ministerial Committee vote as separate panel prepares to approve release of second group of Palestinian prisoners as goodwill measure for peace talks.

ramallah prisoner release 370 (photo credit: Hadas Parush)
ramallah prisoner release 370
(photo credit: Hadas Parush)
A bill sponsored by the Bayit Yehudi Party to ban future Palestinian prisoners release failed to pass the Legislative Ministerial Committee on Sunday by an eight-to-five vote, as a separate panel prepares this evening to approve such a release.
"It was made clear once again today that this government, as opposed to one of its member parties, is acting out of the nation's interest and not that of cynical partisan interests or according to the instructions of [settler] rabbis," Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (HaTenua) said.
"This government is advancing a diplomatic process, that is in Israel's national and security interests. The responsibility to act in accordance with these interests as well as the shared responsibility for decisions that were taken [by the government], is incumbent on every member of the government, even those who in retrospect are trying to shirk from them," Livni said.
Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) said, "It was shameful that ministers opposed the legislation. In the Bayit Yehudi, we oppose and will continue to oppose the release of prisoners."
He attacked the justice minister who is in charge of Israel's negotiations with the Palestinians and said, "Today Livni was given additional rope to continue playing at imaginary negotiations with the Palestinians."
The Bayit Yehudi Party plans to appeal the vote.
"This is a sad day for the fight against terror in Israel," the Bayit Yehudi party said in a statement it released after the vote.
"We will continue to fight with all our strength against the release of prisoners. We're amazed and sorry that that the Likud ministers didn't support the legislation that would have ended the release of murders," the party said.
Likud, Yesh Atitd and HaTenua ministers opposed the legislation and supported further prisoner releases included: Yuval Steintiz, Gideon Sa'ar, Limor Livnat, Gilad Erdan, Yair Lapid, Yael German, Yaakov Peri, Tzipi Livni.
Those who supported the legislation to ban Palestinian prisoner releases included ministers from the Bayit Yehudi and Yisrael Beitineu parties such as: Uri Orbach, Uri Ariel, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Sofa Landver and Yair Shamir.
The legislation was proposed by MK Orit Struck (Bayit Yehudi) and Coalition Chairman MK Yariv Levine (Likud) on behalf of the Land for Israel lobby in the Knesset.
It attempted to pass the legislation as the Israeli government prepared to make good on its pledge to the Palestinian Authority to release 104 Palestinian prisoners in four separate batches over the court of nine months from July to March.
The agreement to free the 104 Palestinians jailed for over two decades for their connection to terror attacks, helped create the climate for the renewed nine month negotiation process which began at the end of July.
In August Israel released 26 prisoners. The release slated for this week is the second such release.
Once a ministerial committee approves the release this evening, the names will be posted by Israel's Prison Services and there will be a 48 hour period before the prisoners are freed.