Saturday, June 26, 2010

Steinitz: Shalit call can't be made on streets

Finance minister says decision on prisoner-swap for kidnapped soldier is no matter for referendum. 'Israel must consider security,' he says. 'To be decision-maker one must make decisions not only from heart, but from head'

Ilana Curiel
Israel News

Just a day ahead of a scheduled mass protest planned by the family of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz stressed that the decision on the soldier's release would not be "made in the streets". Speaking at a cultural event in Beersheba Steinitz said, "These are decisions that cannot be made in the streets, a march, or a referendum." The minister is known as opposed to a prisoner-swap that would free hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit.

"This is one of the tragic dilemmas decision-makers are faced with. On the one hand, there is the heart – we all pray with one heart to see him again. But on the other, to be a decision-maker one must make decisions not only from the heart, but from the head," he said.

"The State of Israel must defend itself. We live in the roughest neighborhood on Earth, and those who choose to release hundreds of terrorists with blood on their hands could significantly harm our ability to defend ourselves when the next waves of terror come around. No one has promised that the previous intifada was really the last."

Steinitz said he understood the public's emotions, but stressed, "If we want to continue our existence Israel must be careful and not ignore national security considerations. We cannot act according to concerns of emotion and sympathy alone. Those who say 'at any price' do not know what they are saying."

The finance minister said that if Israel was to capitulate, the state may be faced with territorial demands next time a soldier is taken captive. "Terror organizations will certainly consider it. This state does more to get back kidnapped and missing people than any other," he said.

But not everyone in the audience was receptive to these explanations. "If it was your son, you'd think different," one audience member called out.

"If it was my son I would feel differently and exclude myself from the decision-making process," Steinitz answered. "However, I respect Shalit's parents. It is their right to fight, and I salute them. If it had happened to one of my children, I would react similarly."

Meanwhile Noam and Aviva Shalit are completing plans for a march in honor of their son, to take place Sunday. They have vowed to travel by foot to Jerusalem, where they will set up a protest tent before the Prime Minister's Residence. "We will not return without Gilad," Noam Shalit has said.

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Releasing Terrorists: New Victims Pay the Price
Nadav Shragai
• In the past, the Israeli Cabinet has approved the release of almost 200 Palestinian security prisoners as a “goodwill gesture” to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. The list includes several prisoners “with blood on their hands,” who, by definition, were involved in the murder of Israelis.
• According to an informal estimate by Israeli security bodies, about 50 percent of the terrorists freed for any reason whatsoever returned to the path of terror, either as perpetrator, planner, or accomplice. In the terror acts committed by these freed terrorists, hundreds of Israelis were murdered, and thousands were wounded.
• Israel freed 400 Palestinian prisoners and five other prisoners in return for Elhanan Tannenbaum, who was held captive by Hizbullah, and for the bodies of three soldiers kidnapped on Mount Dov. According to Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Tzahi Hanegbi, from the date of the deal on January 29, 2004, until April 17, 2007, those freed in the deal had murdered 35 Israelis.
• An investigation by the Almagor Terror Victims Association in Israel revealed that at least 30 of the terrorist attacks perpetrated since 2000 were committed by terrorists freed in deals with terror organizations. Many were freed in the framework of goodwill gestures because they were defined by Israel as “without blood on their hands.” The bloody swath cut by these terrorists claimed the life of 177 persons, with many others wounded and made invalids.