I believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he says that his decision to release Palestinian prisoners was one of the toughest he has made during his time in office. The release of bloodthirsty killers, who don't have a trace of humanity, undoubtedly contradicts basic understandings of morality, justice and Jewish values. These murderers are emissaries of a Palestinian society in which they are considered national heroes, even by those with whom Israel has been holding fruitless peace negotiations for years.
There was no government minister, from the Left or the Right, who did not feel true pain and whose hands were not shaking uneasily during the vote to release terrorists. All of our hearts are with the victims of terror, and we are reminded every day of the price of our will to live as a free people in our land.
Socrates, one of the all-time greatest philosophers, taught us many years ago that in moral dilemmas, decisions must be made based on reason, not public opinion. The Israeli public is clearly against the release of Palestinian prisoners, but the job of Israeli political leaders is to look at the big picture and take into account long-term considerations. That is why they were elected. I do not know what led ministers to make the unpopular decision to release terrorists, but I have no doubt that in time we will understand. I am absolutely certain, however, that the right to talk to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Yasser Arafat's successor, was not the basis for the decision.
In a democratic country, the principle of shared responsibility applies to all government ministers. This is enshrined in Israel's Basic Law, Article 4: The Government. Until a decision is made, every minister can say what is in his or her heart. But once a decision is reached, ministers have only two options: to support the government's decision or resign. There is no third way.