Bennett called a 'Nazi', booed at Israeli pro-peace event

Israeli newspaper reported Monday that Herzog and Netanyahu secretly flew to Cairo in April 2014 for a meeting with Egyptian President Abd El-Fattah El-Sisi.

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June 12, 2017 11:10
3 minute read.
Naftali Bennet at Haaretz Peace Conference

Naftali Bennet at Haaretz Peace Conference. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

 
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The crowd at the dovish Haaretz newspaper’s Peace Conference booed Education Minister Naftali Bennett Monday for saying that keeping Jerusalem united is preferable to a diplomatic agreement with the Palestinians.

Bennett quoted from a Ma’agar Mohot poll published 10 days ago in the pro-Netanyahu newspaper Israel Hayom that found 84% of the public opposed a deal in which Israel would give up all of Jerusalem’s Old City and 67% said they were against an agreement in which Israel relinquished part of it.

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“The Left doesn’t have a monopoly over peace just like the Right doesn’t have a monopoly over patriotism,” Bennett told the crowd. “I want peace just as much as you do.”

A woman in the crowd protested Bennett’s speech by performing a “Heil Hitler” salute. Another woman was filmed arguing with the minister and calling him a “Nazi” following the event. The video shows the education minister turning and walking away.

Bennett described what “a peace of the Right” would look like. He said he would make peace out of strength, giving the Palestinians autonomy but not territory, and he would not allow Palestinian refugees from the Arab world, whom he said would use a Palestinian state as a step on the way to land they still claim in Israel.

“We get peace not by concessions and weakening Israel,” Bennett said. “Had we listened to you and given the Golan Heights to Syria, we would now have ISIS in the Galilee.”

Bennett said he and his political ally Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked have helped Israeli-Arabs more than the Left, listing his ministry’s investments in the Arab sector and his decision to have Arab students start learning Hebrew from first grade instead of the third, and Shaked’s appointment of the first Arab woman as an Islamic religious court judge.



In an attempt to restore calm following Bennett’s speech, President Reuven Rivlin urged hotheads on the Right and the Left of the political spectrum to stop trying to delegitimize each other. In the final analysis, he said what it all boils down to is the ability of the diverse elements in Israel’s population to live together safely in a democratic state. Tearing each other apart endangers democracy, he warned.

Rivlin was unhappy with the heckling to which Bennett had been subjected and said that such behavior was unfortunate and inappropriate. A former Likud MK, Rivlin said he wanted to voice his appreciation to members of Knesset and ministers, especially those on the Right of the political map who though confronted by considerable pressure had insisted on their right and duty to attend the conference to listen and to be heard.

“Their commitment to maintaining open channels of dialogue is a badge of honor for Israeli democracy, and I hope that the audience here will respect them by listening and holding a meaningful and respectful debate,” said Rivlin.

Earlier at the conference, six Labor leadership candidates debated and all ruled out joining Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, even if he seeks a peace agreement under the auspices of US President Donald Trump.

“We won’t fall for Bibi’s false messianism,” said MK Omer Bar Lev, who was followed by MK Amir Peretz saying he would reject Netanyahu’s “honey trap” and MK Erel Margalit saying current Labor leader Isaac Herzog was tricked into negotiating with Netanyahu.

“My negotiations with Netanyahu proved he is no willing [to make peace] and he never will be,” Herzog said.

Haaretz reported on Monday that in April 2014, Herzog flew with Netanyahu secretly to Cairo for a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at his presidential palace. The meeting took place in the context of then-secret contacts over the possibility of Herzog’s party, Zionist Union, joining Netanyahu’s coalition.

“There still remains much that has remained unpublished about my efforts to achieve a regional peace agreement,” Herzog said at the conference.

Later, at a meeting of the Zionist Union faction, Herzog said that had Netanyahu brought him into the government, “Israel would now be in the midst of a huge regional diplomatic process, the likes of which we have not known since the forming of the state.”

Greer Fay Cashman contributed to this report.

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