President-elect Reuven Rivlin’s statement that he would be ready to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is “horrible,” Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett said Thursday.
Speaking at this week’s Jewish Media Summit in Jerusalem, Rivlin said he had met with Abbas numerous times in the past and was willing to do so again in the future. The quote angered Bennett, who had endorsed Rivlin for president along with the rest of the 12 MKs in his faction.
“Rivlin should look at Abbas’s deeds, not his words,” Bennett said.
Rivlin’s spokeswoman declined to issue a response.
Other MKs on the Right who voted for Rivlin defended him and said the president- elect had not stopped being right-wing. None said they regretted their vote.
“Saying he is ready to meet with Abbas is different than saying he wanted to meet with him,” Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon (Likud Beytenu) said. “He is just trying to be statesman-like. But it doesn’t matter because Abbas wants to meet with the heads of Hamas, not the president of Israel.”
Bayit Yehudi MK Orit Struck said Rivlin was not sufficiently aware of Abbas’s involvement in terror.
“When he understands the entire picture on Abbas’s funding for terrorists, I hope he will change his mind about being willing to meet him,” she said.
Left-leaning Yesh Atid MK Ronen Hoffman, who was a strong Rivlin supporter, said the president-elect was right to be willing to meet with Abbas.
“The role of a president, even if he is a hawk, is to try to find common ground between different sides,” Hoffman said. “As long as Abbas is the moderate and sane voice on the Palestinian side and distances himself from terror, the president should maintain contact with him.”