Bayit Yehudi leader and cabinet minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday that Israel should respond to ongoing attacks from Gaza more aggressively and kill any terrorist who infiltrates into Israel.
Bennett’s comments came amid a significant escalation in tensions between Israel and Gaza due to ongoing attacks of various kinds from terrorists in the coastal enclave.
Speaking at a conference of the Maariv newspaper, The Jerusalem Post’s sister publication, Bennett also described Gaza as a failed pilot for a Palestinian state, and insisted that no Palestinian state will be established in the West Bank due to Israel’s security concerns.
At the same event, opposition chair MK Tzipi Livni spoke out strongly against the Israeli rightwing, and implicitly Bennett, saying that its goal of retaining the entire Land of Israel endangered the Jewish character of the Jewish state.
“The game of cat and mouse with Hamas is not working,” argued Bennett during his speech at the conference.“Terrorists come every day, dismantle part of the border fence, infiltrate into Israel, plant explosives and return to Gaza in peace.”
“The solution is not to increase the no-go zone by the border, or to reduce the fuel supply. We shouldn’t punish two million people for what 100 people are doing. The correct response is that a terrorist who enters Israel from Gaza cannot return alive. We need to kill terrorists who want to kill us,” averred Bennett, who is a member of the security cabinet.
Bennett also spoke of his strategic perspective on Israel’s security, and pointed out that when Israel has disengaged from its enemies in the past, such as from Hezbollah in Lebanon in 1999 and from Hamas in Gaza in 2005, its enemies have been able to dramatically strengthen and therefore represent a significant strategic threat to the Jewish state.
Bennett said that no Palestinian state should be established in the West Bank, since only the IDF’s continual, on the ground presence can prevent a hostile entity threatening Israel’s security.
He also described Gaza as a failed pilot program for a Palestinian state, saying that it had defined borders, an internal bureaucracy and other characteristics of a state.
“Tell us how that has worked out,” he quipped.
“In order to protect a Jewish and democratic state I need to protect a Jewish majority for the Jewish state,” Livni said in her speech.
“So it is in the Israeli interest to stop and separate from millions of Palestinians. If we don’t separate from them now, we will eventually have to accept them as citizens in one state and the Jewish state will turn into a Palestinian state.”
She also accused the government of having no strategy towards Gaza, and said that total separation from the Palestinians was the only way of solving the wider Palestinian problem, which she said was “primarily an Israeli problem.”
In addition, the former foreign minister and acting prime minister accused the current government and the Israeli right of undermining democracy, in particular the democratic value of equality, especially for minorities.
“Peace will be a dirty word in the coming elections and democracy will be a dirty word in the coming elections,” Livni asserted.
“We need a Jewish and democratic state which is secure [against external threats], in the Land of Israel. A Jewish state which isn’t a halachic state, which is the state of the Jewish people, where its Jewishness accepts Diaspora Jews regardless of what denomination they belong to, where Jewishness includes equality, and equality is a value of democracy, and our democracy doesn’t just say that what the majority says is what happens and the minority has to do what we say.”
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