Leading coalition partner lashes out at Netanyahu as relations deteriorate over policy, efforts to expand government
The right-wing Jewish Home party warned Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday that it would no longer be his “punching bag,” as the government appeared to wobble over ongoing clashes between the key coalition partner and the prime minister’s ruling Likud.
“Netanyahu is again shooting inside the armored personnel carrier,” said a statement from Jewish Home.
“Just as he opened fire inside the APC when he voted for the disengagement [from Gaza] and the demolition of Gush Katif [the Jewish settlement bloc in Gaza], just as he fired inside the APC when he released the highest number of terrorists in the country’s history, when he presented Hebron to Yasser Arafat… when he froze [settlement] construction, when he surrendered to Hamas, when he declared the establishment of the state of Palestine at Bar-Ilan [University], and when he counted the number of kippot of religious journalists in the media.”
The statement slammed the prime minister for his ongoing efforts to expand the coalition by including the center-left Zionist Union, an amalgam of Labor and Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah party headed by opposition leader Isaac Herzog, and warned that it would no longer tolerate his perceived missteps.
“Most absurdly,” the Jewish Home statement said, Netanyahu “shoots up the APC to bring in Boujie [Herzog], [Zionist Union MKs] Shafir, Michaeli and Yossi Yonah. Just before elections he always sucks up to the public and the religious right.. and the moment after the election, he throws them away and scorns them. The days of [us being] a punching bag are over.”
The comments come a day after a tempestuous cabinet session in which ministers sparred over plans to establish a new public broadcaster. Infighting erupted over the makeup of the new corporation’s reporters, with Science Minister Ofir Akunis complaining that seven of them belonged to the religious-nationalist camp of Jewish Home. [I ASSUME THIS COMES UNDER THE MINISTRY BENNETT IS IN CHARGE OF.]
“There are no Likudniks there,” Akunis charged. “No periphery, no Mizrahim [Jews from Muslim lands].”
He turned to Jewish Home’s ministers at the cabinet table: “Jewish Home supports this corporation because you’re pushing national-religious people into there.”
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, of Jewish Home, shot back at Akunis, “Stop with your lies already! Learn to control yourselves and stop complaining. You’re a bunch of crybabies. You have your very own newspaper; what are you complaining about?” She was referring to Israel Hayom, Israel’s largest daily, funded by billionaire Netanyahu supporter Sheldon Adelson.