In his first speech as a Knesset member, Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett defended to Torah studies of the ultra-Orthodox community, but also stressed that "serving in the army is a mitzvah."
During his speech on Tuesday, Bennett focused on religious affairs and Jewish education. "Let's admit to the truth: The religious services sector has become a machine that creates alienation. It's no wonder that one-third of all Israeli couples wed outside the rabbinate. Let's turn the religious services into a focal point that will illuminate the real Judaism to all of the people of Israel," he told the plenum.
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"We must bring the beauty of Judaism to all the people of Israel. If children do not know who the forefathers of the nation were – Avraham, Moshe, David – and who Israel's heroes were – such as Yoni Netanyahu, Hannah Senesh, Judah Maccabee and Roi Klein – or what Friday night Kiddush is or how to recite ' Shema Yisrael,' – we will turn out next generation into a generation that has no compass, no path.
"Let's bring back the Jewish-Zionist education to all of Israel's children," Bennett said. "These are our core studies, just as much as mathematics and English are. This is not a religious mission. It is an Israeli mission."
The Habayit Hayehudi leader said Israelis must believe in the righteousness of their path, and alluded to the "two states for two peoples" paradigm. "We must know that the land of our forefathers is not a piece of real estate, and that there is no need for me to speak of geo-strategic depth to explain why this is important to me.
"I live in Ra'anana and feel safe because my brothers protect me from the mountains of Binyamin and Samaria. There is no room in our divine little piece of land for another country. It won’t happen, but friends, before any discussion on the territories, it must be said that the Land of Israel belongs to the nation of Israel."
Bennett continued to say that the next government has a "historic opportunity to bring about real cooperation" between all segments of Israeli society with regards to equal share of the national burden.
Addressing the universal draft debate, he said "Studying Torah is an existential interest of the entire nation of Israel. Without the Torah, we wouldn't be here. Without the Torah, we will not be here.
"The haredim are our brothers. They (dedicate their lives) to the Torah ideal," Bennett said, but added that "the current situation cannot continue to exist. It cannot be that they (haredim) do not serve in the army. It cannot be that they do not shoulder some of the financial burden. This is clear to the haredim as well.
"My haredi brothers, army service is also a mitzvah. I served with dear brothers who knew how to study the Torah and carry a stretcher; how to learn the Gemara and storm (the enemy) during battle. I will not allow attacks on my haredi brothers, nor will I let any harm come to the Torah world, which was rehabilitated after the devastation of the Holocaust, but I will also not agree to a situation whereby only mothers that belong to a certain segment of the population do not sleep at night out of concern for the fate of their sons."
Earlier Tuesday, the coalition negotiation teams of Habayit Hayehudi and Likud-Beiteinu met to discuss a new plan for the equal share of the burden, which was drafted on behalf of Likud by Eugene Kandel. Habayit Hayehudi's representatives said they would study the plan.