Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Netanyahu to Amona residents: 'I understand what it means to lose a home'
The prime minister tells the stunned Amona residents that after losing the 1999 elections he and his family were 'simply kicked out' of the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem; 'Just like that, with all of our belongings, we were just thrown into the street. We had to go to the Sheraton Plaza Hotel, it felt terrible.'
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stunned Amona residents when he told them in a meeting earlier this week that he understands "what it means to lose a home."
During the meeting, which was held on Saturday night in an effort to find a solution ahead of the scheduled evacuation of the illegal outpost, the residents tried to explain to the prime minister what it meant to them to lose a home and see it demolished.
Netanyahu responded with: "I understand what it means to lose a home. After the 1999 elections (in which Netanyahu lost to Ehud Barak), with zero warning, me and my family were simply kicked out of the house on Balfour Street (the prime minister's official residence in Jerusalem). Just like that, with all of our belongings, we were just thrown into the street. We had to go to the Sheraton Plaza Hotel, it felt terrible."
The shocked Amona residents tried to answer Netanyahu, telling him, "But still, Mr. Prime Minister, it's a bit different..."
To which Netanyahu responded: "It's difficult, it's very difficult."
Reacting to the report, Ehud Barack wrote on his Twitter: "He completely lost it. 'Uprooted from his home'? By the electorate's votes. I was there. It took him six weeks to pack up and evacuate. Difficult? It's time for another time."
Netanyahu himself chose not to directly respond to the report, neither confirming nor denying. Instead, he chose to quote on his Facebook page the response from the residents of Amona.
"Contrary to the comments that were reported, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not demonstrate disrespect or insensitivity to our pain," the Amona residents said. "On the contrary, the prime minister showed genuine empathy and an honest desire to help as much as he could to ease the pain and sadness we feel over the destruction of our homes. The things that were reported were far from what happened in reality, and constitute a distortion of fractions of things that do not reflect the conversation or the spirit of the meeting."
Israel Radio reported on Wednesday that "one of those present at the meeting confirmed to our diplomatic correspondent Ronen Polak the spirit of the comments published in Yedioth Ahronoth. The source said he did not remember the exact wording, but that these were the things that were said—more or less."
Haaretz's political correspondent Barak Ravid also corroborated the quotes with one of the participants at the meeting.