All Israeli parties should sign a pledge never to evict Jews, Bayit Yehudi head Naftali Bennett said Sunday at the Ono Academic College in Kiryat Ono.
Bennett drew fire from across the political spectrum last month for suggesting that, as an IDF reservist, his conscience would not allow him to evacuate settlements. Following a wave of criticism from the Likud and Center-Left parties, Bennett clarified that he opposes refusing military orders.
Decrying media depictions of his party, Bennett said "In recent days many have been speaking about the extremism of the Bayit Yehudi and Likud MKs... I want to say that we are actually the true Center party. It is the Likud which has turned to the Left."
Friction resurfaced between Likud-Beytenu and Bayit Yehudi last week when Bennett attacked Netanyahu for accusing his party of favoring discrimination against women and homosexuals. In his speech at the academic college, Bennett tried to mend the rift. "Bibi will be the next prime minister," he said. "I worked with Netanyahu, and his heart is in the right place. He wants to do good, and he needs strong people around him to make sure he stays on the right path." Bennett compared Netanyahu to a bus driver who was veering to the left, and said his aim was to "hold the steering wheel in place."
Earlier Sunday, Netanyahu spoke at a campaign event at a Tel Aviv nightclub, making a plea for right-wing votes to strengthen his coalition bloc. "Anyone who wants me to be prime minister but doesn’t vote for me, is increasing the chances the Left will form the next government,” he said.
Turning to the Palestinian track, Bennett refused to declare he would not sit in a government engaging with negotiation with the Palestinians, indicating that he would be open to joining a possible coalition with parties on the Center-Left. In an Channel 2 interview broadcast in part on Saturday, Netanyahu expressed a preference for forming this type of "wide coalition."
"My position is that there will not ever be a Palestinian state between the Jordan and the [Mediterranean] Sea," Bennett added.