A campaign ad for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released late Saturday maintained that the Zionist Union party will benefit the Islamic State, drawing fierce criticism from the center-left party and a former head of the Shin Bet.
In the ad, several jihadists in a pickup truck stop to ask an Israeli driver for directions to Jerusalem. The Israeli replies: “Take a left,” and the slogan “The left will give in to terror” flashes on screen.
In response to the ad, former Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin and the Zionist Union party sharply criticized Netanyahu for his past agreements to release Palestinian prisoners, many of them convicted terrorists.
“The left will allow the Islamic State into Israel, Netanyahu says. The man who released Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in 1997 and rebuilt Hamas. The man who released over 1,000 terrorists, some of whom have already returned to carry out terror attacks during his term as prime minister,” Diskin wrote on his Facebook page.
“The man who released terrorists in order not to freeze settlements, in an arrangement with the Jewish Home party, the man who was dragged into the longest war since the War of Independence against a terror group, the man who threatened Iran but cannot topple a terror group in Gaza.”
Netanyahu has “lost his sense of shame,” Diskin charged.
Similarly, the Zionist Union released a statement castigating Netanyahu’s “colossal failure in the area of security.”
“He released more than one thousand terrorists with blood on their hands, strengthened Hamas, Iran under his watch became a nuclear threshold state, and the personal security of Israel’s citizens is impaired daily,” the party statement said.
The Likud party, in response, panned Diskin who “in 2013, called to divide Jerusalem, to establish a Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 lines, and to partially enforce the Palestinian right of return” and said the ex-Shin Bet head would lead Israel “to political and security disaster.”
“Prime Minister Netanyahu will continue to stand firmly and decisively in the face of pressure, will not give up or give in, and will continue to protect the security of all of Israel’s citizens,” the Likud statement added.
The release of Palestinian security prisoners, most of them convicted murderers, became one of the most divisive issues within Netanyahu’s ruling coalition in 2014 after he agreed to release over 100 such prisoners at the outset of the most recent round of peace talks with the Palestinians. The talks collapsed in the spring, in part because of a dispute over the fourth and final batch of prisoner releases, with the Palestinians demanding the release of Israeli Arab inmates, and Netanyahu saying he had never agreed to do so
In November, the Knesset gave final approval to a contentious law to prevent Palestinian prisoner releases for those serving life sentences, effectively removing the option to use prisoners as a bargaining chip with the Palestinians.