(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet made a more extreme decision than Netanyahu initially intended due to political pressure from ministers on the Right, sources present in the meeting said Wednesday.
The sources said Netanyahu did not intend to announce officially that Israel would not negotiate with a Palestinian Authority that relies on Hamas, because he did not want Israel to be seen as the party preventing diplomatic talks from getting off the ground. But after hawks in the security cabinet spoke, a consensus developed around their point of view, which was ultimately adopted.
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett, who is a member of the security cabinet, wrote on Twitter Wednesday that he was glad the government adopted the policies of Bayit Yehudi. Bennett told Army Radio he did not believe the decision would upset the administration of US president Donald Trump.
“I am certain that President Trump does not want us to negotiate with a gang of terrorists,” Bennett said. “Would the US negotiate with a government that includes Al-Qaida?”
Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon accused Netanyahu of giving into pressure from Bennett. He said that until the security cabinet decision, he had praised the government’s behavior. He said Netanyahu and his ministers had acted responsibly by not doing or saying anything bombastic.
“There is no reason to interfere in a Palestinian deal that is bound to fail,” Ya’alon told Army Radio. “There have been seven such agreements before. I don’t think it will work this time, so why are we getting involved? We could have sent messages using diplomatic channels through the Egyptian mediators or the Americans.”
Ya’alon said that at the security cabinet meeting, ministers tried to prove they were more patriotic than each other by being more extreme.
“The decision proved that politics defeated statesmanship,” Ya’alon said. “They proved they care more about politics than leadership.”
The Likud responded by calling Ya’alon’s statements “a pathetic attempt to get enough votes to pass the electoral threshold.”
The Knesset’s Land of Israel Caucus heads Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) and Yoav Kisch (Likud) praised the decision, saying that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas must understand that he will have to pay a price for forging a bond with Hamas.