Naftali Bennett threatens to quit Israeli coalition over prisoner release

Naftali Bennett. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

( Israeli Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett, the leader of the Habayit Hayehudi party, announced Thursday that if Israeli Arab prisoners are released as part of a U.S.-brokered deal to extend the Israeli-Palestinians peace talks, he and his party would leave the governing coalition.

“If the emerging deal includes releasing murderers with Israeli citizenship, it is an attack on Israeli sovereignty. And not only that—it would be completed despite the Palestinians not revoking their request to join international [organizations],” Bennett said, Israel Hayom reported.

The minister’s comments came after the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams met in Jerusalem on Thursday for talks mediated by U.S. special envoy Martin Indyk.

An American official said the draft deal being discussed would “approve extending talks with the Palestinians for about nine months, until January 2015.”

According to the draft deal, Israel would go ahead with the fourth stage of the prisoner release, in which 26 terrorists jailed before the Oslo Accords were signed would be released. The government would meet again and approve the release of around 12 Israeli Arab terrorists, the clause that was a “red line” for Bennett, and another 400-450 Palestinian prisoners who did not kill anyone but are serving time for security offenses related to their membership in terrorist organizations.

Posted on April 11, 2014 .