Left, right split on response to soldiers’ killings

Left, right split on response to soldiers’ killings

Coalition members hail PM’s decision to resettle Hebron house, but Yachimovich calls the move ‘irrational appeasement’

Gal Gabriel Kobi (photo credit: Facebook)
Gal Gabriel Kobi (photo credit: Facebook)

Israeli MKs from across the political spectrum condemned the killings over the weekend of two IDF soldiers, but voiced diametrically opposed views as to how Israel should respond.

On Friday, Sgt. Tomer Hazan, 20, was lured to a village near Qalqilya in the West Bank by 42-year-old Palestinian Nidal Amar, who allegedly kidnapped and killed Hazan in the hopes of trading the corpse for Amar’s brother, who is in an Israeli prison.

On Sunday, Sgt. Gal Gabriel Kobi, 20, from Tirat HaCarmel, died he was shot in the neck at an IDF checkpoint near Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs.

Several hawkish lawmakers called on the government to reconsider its approach to peace talks with the Palestinians, and even suspend negotiations, while MKs from centrist and left-wing parties expressed sorrow over the events, but stressed the importance of continued negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

On Sunday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the immediate resettlement of Beit Hamachpela, a disputed house, located near the spot where Kobi was shot, whose Jewish occupants were evicted in March 2012 with the government citing security and political concerns.

Opposition head Shelly Yachimovich on Monday morning called the prime minister’s move to resettle Beit Hamachpela an “irrational decision intended to appease the extreme right flank of his coalition.”

Yachimovich said that “we have to fight and defeat terrorism, and I trust the security forces to do so in the best way possible.” At the same time she stressed the importance of continuing the diplomatic process “to ensure that [Israel] remains a Jewish and democratic state.”

Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Eli Ben Dahan (Jewish Home) hailed the prime minister’s Beit Hamachpela announcement, while bemoaning the fact that it took “a soldier’s murder for it to happen.” On his Facebook page, Ben Dahan urged Netanyahu to heed a letter written Sunday by Ben Dahan party’s leader, Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett, in which Bennett called on the prime minister to think twice about releasing terrorists as part of peace efforts. “Releasing [terrorists] will lead to more terror,” Ben Dahan claimed.

Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz (Hatnua) argued against Bennett’s proposal, while saying, “I trust the IDF will do everything to nip terrorism in the bud.” He further condemned “extremists on the right who exploit the pain of the families for political purposes.”

Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon (Likud Beytenu) called for a complete freeze of the peace talks until Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the PA leadership condemned the two murders. “We must not negotiate with those who encourage terror,” Danon said.

Omer Bar-Lev (Labor) said on his Facebook page that while Israel must do everything it its power to stop the murderers and terrorists, it also must remember that “striving for peace is necessary for our security, and to ensure the existence of Israel as a democratic state with a clear Jewish majority.”

Bar-Lev quoted the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, saying said that “our hand will be extended always for peace, but our finger will always be on the trigger.”

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