The cracks inside Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition deepened Thursday when Hatnua MK Amram Mitzna compared coalition partner Bayit Yehudi to Hamas, “if you subtract the terrorism.”
Speaking in an Israel Radio interview, Mitzna said, “In Israel’s government you have [a party] Bayit Yehudi that works toward the same goals as Hamas.”
Mitzna was responding to Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett’s earlier comments on Israel Radio in which he called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas a “mega terrorist” who supports murdering Jews, because he provides monthly stipends to Palestinian inmates in Israeli prisons.
Mitzna called on the prime minister to kick Bennett out of the cabinet. He said Netanyahu should ask Bayit Yehudi, just like he asks Hamas, to accept the Quartet’s conditions of accepting past diplomatic agreements and renouncing terrorism.
“Abu Mazen [Abbas] is the best partner that Israel has had,” Mitzna said. “It’s too bad that Bayit Yehudi, which sits in the government, attempts to sabotage the joint effort of a number of parties that make up this coalition to reach a peace agreement.”
The Prime Minister’s Office released a statement on Thursday saying that Netanyahu roundly condemned Mitzna’s “baseless” remarks.
“There can be diverse opinions in the Knesset, but the argument must maintain appropriate boundaries of truth and fairness,” the prime minister said. “Mitzna’s comments crossed both of these boundaries.”
Netanyahu’s coalition already suffered a blow this week when Bennett told MKs in his faction that they should start getting ready for the possibility that there will be a general election next spring.
The prime minister expelled Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel from a security cabinet meeting when Bennett defiantly brought him to protest dovish Yesh Atid minister Yaakov Peri’s invitation to recent meetings.
Bayit Yehudi faction chairwoman Ayelet Shaked said she would complain to the Knesset’s ethics committee. She called Mitzna’s comments pathetic and especially shameful, because he chairs the Knesset’s education committee.
She said he was frustrated because the diplomatic talks with the Palestinians broke down and “his worldview collapsed.”
Knesset Finance Committee chairman MK Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) shot back at Mitzna, saying, “It’s a shame that a former IDF major general and a former Labor Party chief has turned into the Palestinian Authority’s representative in the Knesset.”
“There is no such thing as Hamas without terrorism, just like there’s no such thing as a cow without milk, udders and four legs,” Slomiansky’s party colleague Orit Struck said.