In the wake of the terror attack Wednesday morning in which an 19-year-old IDF soldier was stabbed to death by a Palestinian youth on a bus in the northern Israeli city of Afula, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to suspend the future planned releases of Palestinian prisoners.
“I turned to the prime minister today with a demand to stop any more [Palestinian] prisoner releases following the stabbing attack this morning in Afula, in which an IDF soldier was killed in his sleep on a bus, and following the [recent] terror attacks emanating from the Palestinian territories,” Danon wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday.
A fellow Likud deputy minister, Tzipi Hotovely, called for a suspension of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
Opposition politicians, by contrast, said the crime should not be used as a pretext to halt talks with the Palestinians on an accord that serves Israel’s interests.
In July, Israel agreed to a four-stage prisoner release deal as part of peace talks restarted under US auspices. Israel released a first group of 26 prisoners in August, and a second in October. With two more stages remaining, and with attacks against Israeli civilians on the rise, Danon once again voiced opposition to the move. “These ongoing talks are deluding both the Israeli public and the Palestinians,” Danon said. “We must put an end to this obvious collision course,” he added.
Deputy Transportation Minister Hotovely laid the blame for the attack on the PA, accusing it of “harming Israel” indirectly, by inciting the “Palestinian street” and “feeding” it anti-Israeli propaganda. “We can’t go on talking peace while the Palestinian Authority turns to terror,” Hotovely said.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Shelly Yachimovich (Labor) urged Netanyahu “not to use the heinous murder to go on thwarting the budding negotiations which are already bruised, battered and stunted, with the heavy shadow of a rift with the United States hanging over them.”
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni eulogized Eden Atias, the 19-year-old who was stabbed to death, expressing condolences to the victim’s family.
“Violence won’t bring about political achievements,” she said, adding that Israel would continue to “fight terror and extremists decisively and uncompromisingly.”
Also reacting to the incident was MK Yitzhak Herzog of the Labor party, who said the murder was “severe, painful and disturbing.”
Herzog added that the incident served as further proof that the “right solution” for Israel is “separation from the Palestinians through negotiations,” a goal toward which Israel should strive more “diligently and fearlessly” than ever.
Herzog said the attack “serves as a reminder that there will always be those who try to threaten Israeli citizens,” adding that security forces must be “constantly on alert” to prevent future attacks.
MK Moti Yogev (Jewish Home) linked the murder to previous attacks on Israelis committed by Palestinians without Israeli entry permits, calling for more stringent control over the entry of Palestinians into Israel.
“At a time in which the incitement in the Palestinian Authority is on the rise, calling for hatred and even eradication of Jews as Hitler once did … [Israeli] security forces must enforce this [control over illegal entrants] with greater vigor, and understand that the defense and security establishments have the ability to prevent the next murder,” Yogev said.