A Cabinet committee unsurprisingly defeated on Sunday a motion by the Jewish Home to propose a bill that would prevent the government from freeing heavy-duty terrorists.
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation voted 8-5 against the proposal, with Likud, Yesh Atid and Livni’s HaTunah party minsters opposing it and Jewish Home and Yisrael Beiteinu ministers voting for it.
With Justice Minister Tzipi Livni heading the committee, the bill had no chance. Click here to understand how she wears three hats, all of them oversized.
Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, a senior Likud member and a close aide to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, characteristically played the role of a sore winner and told Jewish Home Minister Uri Orbach, “If you don’t like it, you can resign.” Sa’ar berated the Jewish Home for daring to propose a bill that would have gone against government policy.
Livni was even cruder with her snipe that the government does not act on the orders “of the rabbis in the West Bank.”
The party stated after the vote, “This is a sad day for the struggle against terrorism in Israel.”
For his part, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not directly mention at the Cabinet meeting Sunday morning the second step in the four-stage plan to free 104 terrorists, a program that started in July to pave the way for the resumption of talks between Israeli negotiators, headed by Livni, and the Palestinian Authority. Instead, he made an undisguised reference to the deal, stating that “promises” must be kept, as reported here in an article on mortar shelling attacks on Israel today.
No one reminded him that he once promised that he never would vote to expel Jews from their homes in Gush Katif. That was before he passed up every effort to vote against the expulsion of 9,000 Jews from Gaza until after was a done deal and his vote did not matter.
Sa’ar and Livni got in their licks, and the terrorists will be released, but the Jewish Home party is far from down and out.
Freeing terrorists, especially for talks and not even for a solider, a civilian or a dead body of one of the two, is decreasingly popular, and it is doubtful that a majority of Israelis are much more than unenthusiastic over the idea.
Every previous release of terrorists has been followed by attacks by several of the same terrorists. Every time, the government finds another reason to say it won’t happen again. Two years ago, it went through he ludicrous procedure of forcing each one to sign on the dotted line, “I will be a good boy, and will not return to terror,” before being free to kill more Israelis, more than 120 at last count.
This time, the government experts on terror says the terrorists are too old to return to terror. Time will tell how they celebrate their birthdays, but it would not wise to attend the party because the cake might blow up in your face.
With every attack by freed terrorists, the voters will remember who voted to free them and who voted to keep them in jail.
But the Jewish Home has a lot of other reasons to be confident that it can buck the government even if it is a member of the coalition.
Every poll in the past several months has shown the party is more and more popular. It has shed the old National Religious Party’s stigma of considering a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria as the only thing that matters in the country. Unlike the NRP, Jewish Home and its chairman Naftali Bennett do not “take orders from rabbis.”
It has taken popular stands on civil marriages, leniency towards homosexuality, like it or not, and it has forged into the area of consumer rights, once a monopoly of the Meretz party.
Elections are probably a long time away, but Sa’ar and Livni may end up taking it on the chin.
About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.
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