PM Netanyahu: Dear Arab citizens of Israel--take part in our society in droves.
(photo credit: screenshot)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Tuesday that if the haredi political parties do not compromise on the pluralist prayer section at the Western Wall the High Court of Justice was likely to impose a solution.
The prime minister made his comments in a lengthy meeting with journalists from the haredi print and online news media The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Netanyahu reportedly stated that on issues such as Shabbat in the public realm, the status of the progressive Jewish streams, and prayer rights at the Western Wall, the haredi political leadership would need to reach certain compromises.
The prime minister said the agreement proposed by Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit after three years of negotiations was a reasonable agreement, that it should be implemented, and that it would be preferable for the issue not to be decided by the High Court.
The meeting lasted some six hours during which many of the major issues concerning defense policy, economics, and matters connected to religion and state and the haredi community.
Yisroel Cohen, a senior journalist with Kikar Shabbat, the most widely read haredi news website, said that the prime minister had impressed the haredi journalists and had spoken candidly with them, even though there had been disagreements between them.
Cohen added that Netanyahu had demonstrated empathy for the haredi world view.
“On the one hand, he was attentive and understood the haredi position, and on the other he made it understood that there are things that must be compromised on and that it is not good for the haredi community to come into conflict with the broader Israeli public,” said Cohen.
In his meeting with the haredi reporters, Netanyahu also blasted former prime minister Ehud Barak, calling him "the worst prime minister in Israel's history." Netanyahu responded to Barak's attack on him last Wednesday at an event of the anti-Netanyahu organization Darkenu in Rishon Lezion.
At the event, Barak accused Netanyahu of being a weak and paranoid leader of a government that harms the security of the state. Barak said Netanyahu made decisions based on his own personal considerations, rather than the good of the country and his continued rule was the "sparks of Fascism."
"The countdown to the end of Netanyahu's tenure has begun, and I think he understands that," Barak told the crowd.
Netanyahu said Barak's attack was an attempt at a political comeback.
Regarding the allegation that he had exposed Israel to a security challenge, Netanyahu said that if it was true, Barak would not have declined to reveal the information to Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avi Dichter.
"If he had what to say, he would have told me or Dichter, and we would have dealt with it, he said. "No one knows what he is talking about. I asked my security advisers. No one has a clue."
Netanyahu denied reports that he met last Thursday with Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog at the home of a neighbor in Caesarea.
"There have been no talks recently," Netanyahu said. " But I have kept the Foreign Affairs portfolion for Buji [Herzog's nickname]. I have told him I want a wide government.”