Officials in the Likud were outraged on Sunday night after Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett implicitly criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over his recent statements in support of a Palestinian state.
While he did not mention Netanyahu by name, Bennett, who spoke at a Jerusalem Day rally at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva said, "There are those, both in Israel and abroad, who are working to advance the various Arab peace plans, according to which we will divide the country, we will divide Jerusalem, and we will return to the '67 lines. Because the world pushes, and there is a need to appease it. I tell them tonight: Never."
"You can't be in favor of the Land of Israel in Hebrew and of creating a Palestinian state in English. Only when we are consistently sharp and determined, the world will leave us in peace. Until then, we will have to liberate Jerusalem anew, every day," he added.
In response, Likud officials blasted Bennett and claimed that he is the only factor that is threatening the nationalist government.
“Bennett's campaign of hypocrisy knows no borders,” charged one senior source in the Likud. “He who sat with Tzipi Livni in a government that held direct negotiations with the Palestinians suddenly discovered the light and magically it happened just as [Avigdor] Liberman was appointed Defense Minister.”
“This is an absurd situation in which the most threatening factor to the right-wing government headed by the Likud is the chairman of the Jewish Home,” the source continued.
“If Bennett insists on taking the Jewish Home out of the coalition for personal reasons, the consequences will be entirely on him, but he should not try to sell to the public that he is doing it for ideological motivations, because no one is buying it,” he added.
Bennett’s comments came after a joint statement last week, in which Netanyahu and Liberman stated that they support peace talks and the two-state solution.
PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat rejected the statement and described it as a “new public relations strategy promoted by the occupying government to shield Israel from having to adhere to the will of the international community and distract from its continued settler-colonial policies and rejectionist positions.”