JERUSALEM — Dozens of demonstrators gathered at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office on Sunday to protest the planned release of 104 Palestinian prisoners ahead of renewed peace talks.
The prisoner release was approved 13-7 by Israel’s cabinet.
“The prime minister is encouraging terror by releasing terrorists and killers,” Israeli Channel 2 news quoted a demonstrator as saying Sunday, as dozens carried pictures of loved ones killed in terror attacks.
Israeli Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett spoke with the demonstrators before heading into the weekly Israeli cabinet meeting, assuring them he would vote against the measure.
“I will vote against it and so will my friends,” he told the crowd, according to Israel Hayom. “The release of killers brings a lot of loss and embarrassment to a country. Anyone on the other side who demands the release of murderers and incinerators of women and children is not worthy of being a called a partner.”
Yaron Friedman, whose brother Guy Friedman was murdered in 1992 by terrorists, said, “Our goodwill gestures actually prompt our enemies to make more demands. You don’t release prisoners before negotiations even begin.”
After the prisoner release passed in the cabinet, Netanyahu said, “This moment is not easy for me. It is not easy for the ministers. It is not easy especially for the families, the bereaved families, whose heart I understand. But there are moments in which tough decisions must be made for the good of the country, and this is one of those moments.”