After Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu slammed Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett for suggesting soldiers refuse orders to evacuate Jewish settlements, Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beytenu) backpedaled on Monday about controversial statements he made in 1995 about the same issue.
In 1995, when Israel was considering returning the Golan Heights to Syria as part of a peace agreement, Landau told the Hebrew media that “government orders to evacuate Jewish settlements don’t apply to the same set of values.”
“Anyone who dares send security forces to evacuate Jewish settlements is clearly doing something illegal,” he said at the time.
But on Monday during a tour of the City of David with Anglo activists from Yisrael Beytenu, Landau said his comments about the Golan were a separate issue. “Military orders have to be obeyed,” he said. “My answer was clear to this in 2005 [during the disengagement from Gaza]. I was openly and publicly quoted that orders of the army have to be obeyed.”
Landau stopped short of expressing regret for his comments, instead insisting that the Golan refusal comments were made “in a different context.”
“We were speaking about evicting Jewish without due process. [In the Gaza disengagement], every resolution was taken duly by our democratic institutions,” he said.
Over the past few days, Netanyahu has hinted that he would not bring Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett into his coalition after the election, because the latter supports refusing military orders.
“Whoever refuses orders will not be in my government,” Netanyahu said in televised interviews on Friday. “The idea of refusal, even as a personal attitude, is not acceptable.”
Last Thursday, Bennett said that as an IDF reservist, his conscience would not allow him to evacuate settlements.
Landau also slammed the State Attorney’s Office over the news that Lieberman could be indicted on charges in the Ambassador case. “It’s becoming a habit just before the elections that someone in the legal institution will target a politician,” he said. “[Lieberman] is still the leader of our party, and we are waiting to see a sense of justice.”
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.