If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proceeds with the next round of Palestinian prisoner releases, scheduled for the end of March, the Jewish Home party will be forced to leave the government, Jewish Home MK Orit Strock said Sunday.
“We will not accept any further release of prisoners,” Strock said during an interview with the Knesset Channel.
“We will not accept it to the point of Jewish Home quitting [the government].”
Under the deal that relaunched peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians last July, Israel said it would release 104 Palestinian prisoners held since before the 1993 Oslo peace accords, in exchange for the Palestinians not pressing their statehood claims unilaterally at the United Nations and other international forums.
So far, Israel has freed 78 prisoners in three batches, but ministers had warned they would block the release of the final group, which was originally slated for last Saturday, if the Palestinians refused to extend the talks beyond their April 29 endpoint.
There has been no official Israeli update on whether or when the final release of prisoners will take place. The Palestinians want up to 20 Arab Israeli citizens to be included in the group, a demand hotly opposed by Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition partners and many members of his own Likud party.
Last week, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon (Likud) threatened to resign if the final round of the prisoner release goes ahead as planned.
“The prime minister and the relevant parties still have the time and opportunity to recognize the danger of this planned release, and I hope that they will make the necessary decision to protect our national interest,” said Danon.
“But if they do not, I will not stand idly by as the State of Israel further denigrates itself and harms the security of its people.”
JTA contributed to this report.