Before entering negotiations, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will have to confront voices within the coalition that oppose the release of over 100 Palestinian prisoners in order to renew talks. Minister Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beitenu) told Ynet yesterday that “the Israeli consent to release prisoners is a mistake. We must learn from past mistakes and not make any gestures before negotiations begin.”
Although Netanyahu and his spokesmen insisted there would be no preconditions for the renewal of negotiations, Minister Landau expressed doubt: “I am not convinced there are no undisclosed understandings between Israel and the Americans in regards to Israel’s gestures.”
According to Landau, “there is an Israeli interest to negotiate,” however he clarified: “The release of prisoners troubles me. When you enter negotiations, you need to know what the dialogue is about. We must learn from the Americans, who do not release prisoners and do not release murderers. If anyone expects us to announce we are leaving the government, he shouldn’t wait. We still don’t know what is behind these statements.”
Landau also warned of the agreement to negotiate on the basis of the 1967 boundaries: “Whoever speaks of the 1967 borders speaks of Auschwitz. Whoever pushes for negotiations based on the 1967 boundaries, even with border adjustments, actually speaks of 1967 borders. We must negotiate with no preconditions and without prisoner release.”
Similar to Landau, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon also said that negotiating is an Israeli interest: “We have expressed our willingness to negotiate immediately, anywhere, and without preconditions. We insisted on entering negotiations without preconditions, which included Palestinian demands to declare the 1967 borders, freezing of construction and release of prisoners.
“The firm stance on this matter by the Israeli government, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has led the world’s nations, headed by the United States, to reach the conclusion that the most proper way to try and reach an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians would be direct negotiations with no preconditions. This is exactly what is happening now,” he said.
Ya’alon’s deputy, Knesset Member Danny Danon fiercely objects to the release of prisoners since “we must learn from past mistakes and not release terrorists with blood on their hands as a gesture or reward.” In regards to the resumption of talks, he said: “I trust the prime minister that he knows we cannot discuss a return to the 1967 borders. We must not repeat the injustice of the (Gaza) Disengagement and uproot thousands of Jews from their home.”
MK Miri Regev asked the prime minister to bring the principles of the negotiations to the approval of the Likud party’s institutions. She said that “in light of the various statements regarding an agreement about the 1967 borders, as well as agreements on releasing Palestinian prisoners, the prime minister should clarify the truth.”
Read more at YNET NEWS ISRAEL.