Speaking in an exclusive interview with Arutz Sheva on Wednesday, Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) pledged to work on behalf of the embattled town of Amona, which is slated for demolition later this year.
During the interview Bennett also responded to recent criticism by former security officials against the current government and discussed ongoing allegations that state officials were complicit in the kidnapping of Yemenite babies in the early years of the state.
Regarding the criticism by former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and ex-Prime Minister Ehud Barak against the Netanyahu government, Bennett played down the attacks, suggesting the two run for Knesset if they disagree so strongly with the present leadership.
“It’s their right [to criticize],” said Bennett. “We’re a democratic country. My suggestion is to all these ‘generals’ is that they should run in elections. We have democracy and any person can run for office. [Former PM Ehud] Barak should unveil his vision for the division of Jerusalem and the transfer of the Old City to the Palestinians, and then we’ll see if the public will support these things.”
While some commentators have suggested the departure of former Defense Minister Yaalon is a sign of the coalition’s weakness and imminent collapse, Bennett argued the government had only grown stronger, and would remain stable for a long time.
Bennett also addressed concerns that the government would not expend political capital to preserve the town of Amona, in Samaria.
“I’ll say this very clearly: there is no way that a right-wing government will destroy a veteran community. We didn’t join the government in order to expel Jews from their homes. The Prime Minister received a very clear message from us – it is absolutely essential to find a solution for Amona, and we will use as much of our political power as needed to find a solution.”
Acknowledging that the Supreme Court had ruled against Amona and ordered its demolition, Bennett insisted that the government could nevertheless find a solution.
“We’re concentrating our efforts in a few directions. There’s no way that a right-wing government will destroy a town in Israel. That simply will not happen.”
“We don’t need to send ultimatum’s all of the time. I think that I was clear enough [in this regard].”
Turning to renewed allegations that state officials were complicit in the kidnapping of new born babies of Yemenite immigrants during the early years of the state, Bennett said the government should be as transparent as possible. Noting that the matter did not risk state security, Bennett suggested government records be publicized, so long as no issues of personal privacy are involved.
“I’m a big believer in transparency. Even if the State of Israel may have erred and erred badly more than 50 years ago, we need to reveal that; not necessarily to punish anyone, but to know what actually happened.”