From Arutz Sheva, Wednesday, September 13, 2006 / 20 Elul 5766 ...
Amir Peretz's refusal to rule out freeing a convicted terrorist has shocked coalition MKs. His statement....places his Labor party leadership in question.
The Defense Minister said Wednesday he does not rule out freeing terrorist Samir Kantar in a deal to return kidnapped IDF soldiers. "There is no doubt that Samir Kantar is one of the central questions being dealt with in any negotiation of this type [and] I suggest that we allow this issue to be dealt with in a very, very secret, very serious, very significant manner," he told Voice of Israel government radio.
Kantar was convicted for the brutal 1979 killing of a four-year-old girl and her father in an attack in northern Israel. He shot the man in front of the daughter and then killed her by smashing her head with his rifle butt. Another daughter, aged 2, died when the man's wife covered her baby's mouth to prevent her from screaming and revealing their hiding place.
Kantar is serving prison terms totaling 542 years, and Peretz's refusal to rule out freeing him in exchange for kidnapped soldiers is in direct opposition to a government policy not to free terrorists "with blood on their hands." Political analyst Hanan Kristal told Voice of Israel government radio Wednesday that Labor party chairman Peretz's days are numbered.
Tzachi HaNegbi, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and a leader in the Kadima coalition with Labor, said that freeing Kantar would represent a victory for Hizbullah terrorist leader Hassan Nasrallah. He wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Peretz, "Freeing the murderer as a direct result of the kidnapping would decidedly crown Nasrallah...and raise a question on justifying the sacrifice of 159 victims" in the war against Hizbullah.
Labor Knesset Member Ami Ayalon, who has said he will challenge the Labor chairman in the next party primaries, publicly called on him Wednesday to quit his ministerial post. "There are those in the political echelon who are responsible [for failures in the war], and I think Peretz needs to own up to this responsibility and resign," he said. MK Ayalon made the remarks in response to the announcement of the head of the Northern Command, Brigadier General Udi Adam, that he is quitting his military career in order to set an example that leaders must take responsibility for mistakes.....