Knesset Coalition: Jewish prisoners will not be released even if Arab terrorists are

Wednesday, July 10, 21:03 A bill proposed by Member of Knesset (MK) David Azulai (Shas) according to which simultaneous to the release of Arab terrorists Jewish prisoners will also be released was rejected by the Knesset by a decisive majority following opposition by the government.
Honenu notes that Ezer Weizman when he was President and Tzachi HaNegbi when he was Justice Minister upheld the principle of reciprocity which was rejected today by Binyamin Netanyahu’s government. Also many MK’s who support the fair and just bill voted against it and against their conscious, only because of political considerations.
On Wednesday, July 10 a decisive majority of the Knesset coalition rejected a bill proposed by a group of MK’s from the Shas party lead by MK David Azulai according to which if the government recommends that Arab terrorists be released as a gesture of good will or as part of a deal the government will be obligated to recommend that Jewish prisoners – military or civilian – who were arrested for nationalist motives be released. The initiators of the bill state that the principle of reciprocity on which the bill is based comes to rectify a decades old injustice.
In a speech in front of the Knesset plenum MK Azulai turned to the members of the Jewish Home party, whom he regards as natural partners to support the bill, in a request to support the bill which will give hope to the Jewish nationalist prisoners . According to Azulai despite the opposition of the coalition to the bill, several MK’s from the Jewish Home party turned to him and requested that he promote the bill. None of the Jewish Home MK’s supported the bill and only one member of the coalition, MK Moshe Feiglin, voted in favor of the bill.
According to MK Azulai a long list of people who are not identified with the political right wing had expressed support in the past for similar bills and the principle of reciprocity on which it is based, among them former Justice Minister in the Rabin government Professor David Libai, former president Ezer Weizman and others. Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon also had supported a similar bill. Already during the previous term, the aforementioned bill was put to a vote, then proposed by MK’s from various parties including Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas, Yahadut HaTorah, Kadima and Jewish Home.
As stated above, due to opposition from the coalition the bill was rejected by a decisive majority of 53 opposing against only 9 supporting. Housing Minister Uri Ariel and MK Orit Sitruk of the Jewish Home party abstained from voting with the permission of Coalition Chairman MK Yariv Levin who himself in the past expressed support for the bill, however as stated above he was also obligated by the decision of the coalition not to vote in favor of the bill.
Honenu, which provides legal counsel to soldiers, policemen and civilians who find themselves entangled in legal difficulties due to the security situation in Israel, states in response to the vote that “The reciprocity in the bill comes to rectify a decades old social injustice. Following our efforts on the issue in the past also prominent left wingers such as former President Ezer Weizman supported the principle of the bill. Weizman together with then Justice Minister MK Tzachi HaNegbi reduced the sentences of several prisoners and others were released. To our great sorrow a supposedly right-wing Netanyahu government has chosen to oppose this ethical principle. We are well aware that many MK’s in the coalition who support the fair and just bill voted against it and against their conscious, only because of political considerations. Only Moshe Feiglin preferred to vote according to his conscious.”
Despite this disappointment Honenu remains optimistic: “We will continue to work tirelessly for the promotion of the bill, which in fact was not originated by Shas. The National Religious Party initiated and promoted it. Today the Jewish Home party, a continuation of the NRP, is promoting it. We have undertaken to assist the effort to the best of our abilities. Also during the previous Knesset term we attempted to pass the bill, unfortunately without success. What surprised us today was that, of all people, the members of the Jewish Home party chose to block the bill, by either being absent, abstaining, or voting against it. There is talk now of restarting the diplomatic process by a gesture of releasing terrorists. The least that we can do is bring about reciprocity and equal opportunity. It cannot be that a terrorist who murdered Jews in cold blood and was sentenced to multiple life sentences will have a chance of early release and a Jew whose actions are not comparable in any way to terrorism will not have a chance. I hope that the members of the Jewish Home party and the other members of the coalition will come to their senses and G-d willing after the summer recess we will submit the bill again.”

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