Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday evening reprimanded Vice Premier and Minister for Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya'alon for referring to left-wing movement Peace Now and Israel's elites as"a virus". Ya'alon told the prime minister that his remarks were "misinterpreted".
As far as Netanyahu is concerned, this is the end of the affair. At the end of the meeting, which also dealt with political issues, the prime minister invited Ya'alon to join a meeting of the narrow security-political forum.
During his meeting with Netanyahu at the Kirya base in Tel Aviv, the vice premier said he "took part in forming the government's policy," and added that as a minister and vice premier he "takes collective responsibility for this policy."
He added that his remarks contained no criticism over the government's policy or against its head, and said he regretted being misunderstood. He also clarified that he "acknowledges the importance of an open and democratic public discourse, and the importance of different opinions in society."
Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer said that the vice premier's remarks during his meeting with Netanyahu were "only lip service". He added that "it's unfortunate that Ya'alon did not go back on the grave statements he made."
Netanyahu decided to cut his summer vacation short to meet with Ya'alon, who made the controversial remarks during a meeting with members of the Likud's Jewish Leadership division, headed by Moshe Feiglin.
When asked by one of the attendees about plans to dismantle the Bnei Adam outpost, Ya'alon responded, "We again are dealing with the issue of the virus, Peace Now – the elitists, if you may – who have incurred great damage. From my perspective, Jews can and need to live in all of the Land of Israel for all eternity."
Ya'alon also warned against folding to US pressure. "There are certain things we need to say – up to here. When you do things you don't believe in, you enter a slippery slope because they put pressure on you, and you keep rolling downwards."
"I'm not afraid of the Americans," said Ya'alon, drawing loud applause from the audience.