Eitam praises IDF chief for not 'tainting IDF with prisoner release'

MK Efi Eitam (NU/NRP) on Tuesday congratulated Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen Gabi Ashkenazi for not having "tainted the IDF with the release of murderers," referring to Ashkenazi's reported objection to Monday's cabinet decision to free Palestinian prisoners ahead of next week's Annapolis summit. Eitam added that the consequences of the decision could be seen "this morning," in what appeared to be a reference to Monday night's terror attack, which claimed that life of Ido Zoldan, 29. Eitam spoke at the beginning of the weekly gathering of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. MK Ran Cohen (Meretz), also present at the meeting, responded immediately to Eitam. "There is no need to put the words of the extreme right in the mouth of the Chief of Staff. I advise against holding a press conference here," he said. Turning to Ashkenazi, he added: "I suggest we see if these MKs will address you in the same manner when the IDF evacuates settlements." On Monday some reports stated that Ashkenazi was opposed to a prisoner release, but later clarifications revealed that that Ashkenazi's opposition was not to the move in principle, but only to the release of 16 Fatah detainees destined to return to their homes in the Gaza Strip. Ashkenazi reportedly believed such a move would not help in strengthening Abbas, as Fatah no longer controls the Gaza Strip.