Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In a sign of tumult on the Israeli political scene in the wake of the murder of a Jewish couple in the northern West Bank, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is coming under criticism from his right-wing flank which accused him Friday of "not doing enough" to provide security for Israel's citizens beyond the Green Line.
In an interview with Channel 2, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said that while "the army was trying," the results have been unsatisfactory.
"Yes, this is a right-wing, nationalist, homogeneous government, but we aren't giving sufficient backing to the commander in the field," Shaked, who represents the religious Zionist Bayit Yehudi faction, said.
The justice minister said that the IDF was wrong to dismiss an officer who was caught on camera smashing the equipment of Agence France Presse journalists
in the West Bank.
On September 25, Givati Brigade soldiers at Bet Furik smashed the cameras of two AFP reporters who had arrived to film a Palestinian demonstration.
In a story it wrote about the incident, AFP said the IDF threw Italian video journalist Andrea Bernardi to the ground, jabbed him with a weapon and held him down until he produced a press card and that soldiers took away the camera of Palestinian photographer Abbas Momani.
Following that incident “in which a force commander behaved in a manner that is incompatible with expectations of an IDF commander, an operational investigation was launched by the head of the sector, and an additional investigation was launched by the commander of the Givati Brigade, Col. Yaron Finkelman,” the IDF said.
While she disagreed with the soldiers' behavior, the army's decision to enforce a discharge "sent the wrong message," according to Shaked.
"Soldiers need to know that they are there to fight and to protect our citizens," Shaked said.
When asked whether the stalled peace process was to blame for the recent flare-up in violence on the ground, Shaked responded: "Bayit Yehudi is not leading the country. That's the prime minister."
"[Netanyahu] believes in a two-state solution, and we think it's a mistake," the justice minister said. "We are talking about a long-term plan that entails annexing Area C (the sections of the West Bank that are under complete Israeli civilian and military control). I'm not saying this should be done now, but it's a plan that needs to be on the table."
Shaked assailed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whom she accuses of being "directly responsible" the slaying of the Israeli couple near Itamar on Thursday.
Israel "needs to do things that will cause [the Palestinians] pain so that they will understand that [terrorism] doesn't pay," she said.
The minister said that Israel needed to retaliate by expanding settlement construction in the West Bank.
"We need to build unashamedly," she said. "That's how Zionism was born."
Shaked also called on the security forces to re-arrest the Palestinians who were freed as part of the Gilad Schalit prisoner exchange
Yisrael Beytenu chief Avigdor Liberman, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Nokdim, said that the security services were not adequately prepared for the attack on Thursday despite repeated warnings from settler leaders about the vulnerability of the highway on which the shooting took place.
"The writing was on the wall," the former foreign minister told Channel 2, faulting Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon for ignoring the settlers' warnings.