Netanyahu and Bennett.
(photo credit: ABIR SULTAN / POOL / AFP,REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is moving more to the Left in an effort to push Bayit Yehudi out of the coalition and replace it with the Zionist Union, sources close to Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett said Tuesday.
Netanyahu endorsed parts of the controversial Saudi initiative in a press conference with new Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman at the Knesset on Monday night. He and Liberman reiterated their long-standing support for a Palestinian state, a position which is backed by nearly every party leader in the Knesset except for Bennett.
“For anyone who opposes divides Jerusalem and forming a Palestinian state on Route 6 and is concerned about the concessions over the past day: Don’t worry, we are here.” Bennett wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday night.
Bennett’s political ally, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, said on a visit to the Binyamin Regional Council Tuesday that “as long as we are in the government, a Palestinian state will not be formed, Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria will not be evacuated, and no territory will be given to the enemy.”
In a dispute within Bayit Yehudi, Construction Minister Uri Ariel criticized Bennett at Monday’s faction meeting for going too far in his fight with Netanyahu over the past week over the functioning of the security cabinet.
“I don’t love the path of crises,” Ariel said in a quote from the closed-door meeting revealed by Army Radio political correspondent Ido Benbaji. “It will not work. All the dialysis in the world will not clean the bad blood between you.”
MK Benny Begin lashed out at those who advocated for the ousting of Moshe Ya’alon from his position as defense minister calling those who supported the move “stupid” in an interview with Army Radio on Tuesday morning.
“There are three kinds of rightwing,” said Begin. “There is moderate- Right, extreme-Right and stupid-Right,” those who supported and celebrated the ouster of Moshe Ya’alon and his replacement by Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) are a part of the “stupid Right,” he explained.
“I saw the merriment, the rejoicing and the happiness of the right-wing activists when they saw their campaign was complete and that their defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon, had quit his job and the government,” lamented Begin.
“That means that a man who was completely dedicated to working against the formation of a Hamas-based state in the West Bank is not acceptable, but a man who vowed to occupy Gaza and enforce the death penalty is absolutely kosher,” he said, referencing statements made in the past by Liberman.
Begin denied rumors that this would be his last term in the Knesset despite the difficulties he has faced. “I wake up in the morning on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays with the desire to go to work. I am enjoying my work in the Knesset.”
Liberman’s shift to the Left should not have surprised anyone, said former MK Aryeh Eldad.
“Only someone who doesn’t know him is surprised,” Eldad said. “Only someone who was tricked by the image of a rightwing hawk who eats Arabs for breakfast would think he would not give up the Land of Israel. He has given up the Land of Israel for various reasons for 10 years. He has said it is to get rid of Israeli Arabs. Now he says it is for keeping the people whole.”
Eldad said Liberman’s diplomatic plan is much more left-wing than Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid’s “The world was misled by his support for the death penalty and his past calls to bomb the Aswan Dam,” Eldad said. “Despite Liberman’s threat to kill him, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s life is not in danger. [Liberman] just says such things for electoral gain. The world is now using his false rightwing image to gain concessions from Netanyahu even though the US State Department knows who the real Liberman is.”
Ro Yeger contributed to this report.