In Jerusalem, the Israeli Knesset has sen a bitter debate over the government's release of seventy-six Palestinian guerrillas in exchange for one captured Israeli soldier.
In Jerusalem, the Israeli Knesset has sen a bitter debate over the government's release of seventy-six Palestinian guerrillas in exchange for one captured Israeli soldier. The government's decision to release the Palestinians caused the large Labour Party Opposition and the small Shai Party to table a motion of no confidence. But on Wednesday (9 May), the motion was defeated by a show of hands.
SYNOPSIS: Opposition Knesset members objected to the exchange, saying it would encourage guerrilla activity and hostage taking. The Israeli soldier, Avraham Amram, was held prisoner in Lebanon for more than a year before his release was negotiated in March. Defence Minister, Ezer Weizman, denied that the exchange of one man for such a large number of guerrillas would act as a precedent.
Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, joined the debate which became increasingly heated. Mr Weizman said the previous Labour government had also agreed to exchange imprisoned guerrillas for Israeli hostages. He said guerrillas had been exchanged for the release of an El Al airliner hijacked to Algiers eleven years ago. Mr. Weizman said a similar deal was made at about the same time when a watchman at the northern town of Metullah was kidnapped by a band of Arab guerrillas and held in Lebanon.
It is the first time Israel has officially confirmed that it traded these hostages for jailed guerrillas.