Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett leveled
harsh criticism Wednesday on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's agreement with Hatnua Chairwoman Tzipi Livni, which states that Livni will head future negotiations with the Palestinians.
Speaking before Habayit Hayehudi members, the party chairman censured Livni's positions, saying: "Are we going to make a stronger Israel or hand the negotiations to the person who suggested that we divide Jerusalem?"
Following lagging coalitional negotiations, Bennett added that "It would not be a disaster if we didn’t join the government."
Bennett disclosed his own approach to potential negotiations with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: "I don’t care about Abu Mazen;
I'm not interested in making him stronger. I care about the people of Israel – the young, the poor, the secular – they matter. Not Abu Mazen, Abu Ali and Abu I don’t know who… who will be negotiating with Tzipi Livni. They're not interesting."
Bennett further stressed his prioritizing of domestic issues to foreign affairs in addressing 2011 social protests: "Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets. Why did they do that? Because of Abu Mazen? Is that what we want? Four more years of obsessing over him? What we care about is Ofakim, Sderot
Habayit Hayehudi chairman, Wednesday (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
He also discussed the issue of haredi
draft, noting that "We are about to miss out on the opportunity to integrate haredim in Israeli society. They call it 'equal share of the burden,' but I prefer to refer to it as opening the gates that entrap the haredi public. I say these things out of love for the haredi public, which is involuntarily sentenced to poverty and deprivation."
"We believe that knocking down the walls between haredim and the rest of the Israeli society is extremely important. We will not cooperate with doing the Torah
harm. Still, it is unprecedented in the history of the Jewish people that an entire population encourages its sons, from the age of three to the age of 80, to study and not to work.
"We want to be partners in a government that will untangle this knot and initiate a change for the benefit of the haredi society," the Habayit Hayehudi
In response to Bennett's remarks, Hatnua party commented that "Livni has never given up on Ariel,
nor has she brought up Jerusalem in negotiations. Rather, she has made a clear effort to guard Israel's national interests."
On Tuesday, Hatnua's chairwoman finalized a coalition agreement with Likud-Beiteinu,
according to which she will serve as justice minister in Netanyahu's government and head the Israeli negotiation team during any future peace talks with the Palestinians.
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