Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not offer the Bayit Yehudi the options of either a settlement construction freeze or a prisoner release, Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett said in an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post Monday night, denying accusations made by other parties in recent weeks.

“This is a lie and a total fabrication,” Bennett said emphatically. “I was never presented those two possibilities.”

The Bayit Yehudi leader said, “Netanyahu told me [about the prisoner release] when it was a fait accompli.”

As for why he stayed in the government even though he opposes its policy of freeing terrorists, Bennett explained: “If we quit, three minutes later Shas and [Labor leader] Shelly [Yacimovich] will take our place. I don’t see a value in that.”

“The Bayit Yehudi is the anchor, the spine and the conscience of the government,” Bennett stated.

“If someone wants to criticize us for staying in the government, that’s legitimate,” he added. “We have our red line, which is giving away parts of the Land of Israel, and Netanyahu knows that that’s our red line.”

Bennett admitted that he realizes that once the government voted to release prisoners at four different stagesthis week being the second – he can’t do much to stop it, but he and his party plan to continue fighting so it does not happen in the future.

As such, his party submitted an appeal to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation’s rejection of a bill proposed by MK Orit Struck (Bayit Yehudi) that would prevent future prisoner releases.

“I’m pushing for another vote, and I won’t give up,” Bennett said.

Bennett expressed disappointment that the Likud voted against the bill, saying he’s proud to be the leader of the only party opposing a Palestinian state.

“Israel is going down a slippery slope. First, we released one terrorist for one soldier. Then 100 terrorists for one soldier, then 100 terrorists for a corpse, and now 100 terrorists for nothing,” he said.

“Netanyahu once said, ‘if they give, they will get; if they don’t give, they won’t get.’ Well, [the Palestinians] aren’t giving and they’re getting.”

Not only is Israel not getting anything, Bennett pointed out, but Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas tried to convince other countries to boycott Israeli companies.

“[Prisoner releases] harm Israel’s deterrence,” Bennett added. “We know the terrorists will go back to murdering. All we don’t know is the names of the people they’ll murder.”

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