Yisrael Beiteinu MK: US Must Free Pollard

Hillel Fendel - Arutz7 - Israel National News - 12 Kislev 5768, November 22, 2007

(IsraelNN.com) MK Esterina Tartman says that the US, instead of pressuring Israel to free Palestinian terrorist prisoners, should free its own Israeli prisoner - Jonathan Pollard. She also attempts to explain why her party is remaining in the Olmert government.

Speaking with Arutz-7's Hebrew newsmagazine on Monday, Tartman said,

"The American demand that we free terrorists is unfair, because they should first practice what they preach. They are holding a Jew who is sitting in prison and they don't want to release him; he didn't murder anyone, he doesn't have blood on his hands, did not work for an enemy country, yet they have stubbornly held him year after year. By what right do they come and demand of us to release those who long to murder Jews?"

Tartman was speaking as the Cabinet was approving Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's proposal to free 441 Palestinian Authority terrorists in yet another "goodwill gesture" to PA Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). Voting against the plan were the ministers of Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu, and Transportation Minister Sha'ul Mofaz of Kadima.

Tartman's remarks agains U.S. hypocrisy were prompted by reports that the Americans had pressured Israel to release an even greater number of terrorist prisoners than the 441 who are to go free.

Pollard began his

23rd year in U.S. prison

this week. Israel has not yet submitted a formal request for his release.

Terrorists Might be Free by Friday

The list of terrorist prisoners to be freed has been published, and will be reviewed later this afternoon (Wednesday) by a ministerial committee. The terrorists may be on the streets by Friday.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said on Monday that he objects to the release of the 16 Gaza residents - Fatah terrorists - who are on the list. He said Israel should not free any prisoners to Gaza as long as IDF soldier Gilad Shalit is still being held captive there. Shalit was taken prisoner by Hamas terrorists in Gaza 17 months ago.

Ashkenazi rebuffed public criticism of his declaration, saying he has an opinion on the matter and it is his right to express it.

Tartman on Why Her Party Doesn't Quit Gov't

MK Tartman elaborated on her party's opposition to many of the policies of the coalition government of which her party is a member - and was hard-pressed to explain why, despite this, it was imperative for the party to remain in the government.

"Our presence in the government has always been ideologically motivated," she said. "We entered after the war in Lebanon, when we detected a perfect opportunity to benefit our public from a position of strength around the government table - and we have succeeded in many areas."

Asked why Yisrael Beiteinu does not quit the government in order to thwart the upcoming Annapolis conference, Tartman said, "Annapolis is not the only standard by which to judge whether we should remain in the government. We have not lost our ideological identity and the path in which we believe. In the meanwhile, we are bringing great benefits in important areas."

Asked what Yisrael Beiteinu hopes will be the results of the Annapolis summit, Tartman said, "There is no need for us to expend too much energy on something that has no value. We believe that nothing good will come of this conference; we don't even see it as a summit, but as just a meeting, as the Prime Minister himself has said. In our eyes, the whole thing won't lead to anything except for gestures and concessions; it does not deserve our attention. We also don't want to make a lot of noise about it, thus possibly leading to self-fulfilling prophecies. We don't want to deal with marginal issues, such as whether there will be another meeting or not - but rather with important issues such as daily efforts for our kidnapped soldiers, remembering Pollard, opposing the release of terrorists and defining who has blood on their hands, etc."

MK Tartman can be reached by

email here

, or by faxing 02-649-6440 (from abroad: +9722-649-6440).