Israeli army chief of staff Maj.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi this week circulated a letter addressed to Israel's top political leaders explaining why it was wrong and unethical to set free jailed Palestinian terrorists when an Israeli soldier is still being held captive in the Gaza Strip.
Israel released 57 Palestinian security prisoners in Judea and Samaria (the so-called "West Bank") on Monday as a goodwill gesture toward Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. But the release of an additional 30 jailed Gaza residents was delayed until Tuesday by Ashkenazi's protest.
The government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hopes that by continuously releasing Palestinians who were engaged in terrorism against Israel, it can bolster Abbas' shaky rule and turn Yasser Arafat's former right-hand man into a true partner for peace.
Lawmakers from across the political spectrum harshly criticized the army chief for voicing his position on what they insist is a wholly political matter.