Coalition threatened by prisoner release

The Jewish Home party will leave Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition if he releases Arab Israelis from jail, party bosses said.

Ayelet Shaked, a lawmaker and senior member of Jewish Home, said on April 11 that the party’s position on the issue was a result of the Palestinian Authority’s bid last week to upgrade its status by applying to join 15 international conventions.

“For a year we’ve been hearing that we are losing assets [prisoners] so that the Palestinians don’t go to the United Nations,” she told Army Radio. “Yet now they have, and we are continuing to lose assets.”

Party leader Naftali Bennett had earlier made similar statements.

Shaked added that Jewish Home would be open to discussing the release of such prisoners if the Palestinians withdrew their U.N. applications. The applications came after negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority broke down following Israel’s failure to meet a March 29 deadline to release 26 prisoners, the final batch of 104 that Israel had pledged to release as part of the talks.

After the Palestinians applied to join international conventions, Netanyahu responded with financial sanctions on the Palestinian Authority. — jta