Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett was slammed on Thursday evening when he said during a television interview that he would not be willing to evict Jews from their homes.
Bennett, who served in elite IDF units including the Sayeret Matkal commando unit and continues to serve to this day as a reservist, said during an interview with the "Mishal Cham" program on Channel 2 that if he ever receives an order to evict Jews, he would ask his commander to release him from his position. Bennett said he would be willing to serve time in prison over this issue.
"If I receive an order to evict a Jew from his home, my conscience will not allow it," said Bennett. "I would ask my commander to release me."
He then added, "Sorry, I cannot enter a Jew's home and evict him." Bennett noted that as an MK, he will work to thwart any plan that could hurt the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
The comments were condemned by Likud Minister Moshe Ya'alon, a former IDF of Chief of Staff, who said, "I am appalled by Bennett's comments, which endanger the IDF and Israeli democracy."
The Kadima party responded to Bennett's remarks and said that "Bennett revealed his true and dangerous face. This evening the truth came out - it turns out that Bennett is nothing more than the shepherd of the hilltop youth."
"He should be reminded that a law is a law is a law," said Kadima. "Anyone who declares that he will not obey the law is not worthy of being an elected official, let alone leading a party."
Bennett later clarified in a status he posted to his Facebook page that his remarks were in no way advocating for soldiers to refuse their commanders' orders.
"As one who led fighters in operations and in battle, I oppose refusing orders with all my soul and heart," he wrote. "I fulfilled all the orders in my 22 years in the army and will continue to do so. Personally, I simply cannot evict a family from its home and would ask my commanders to release me from that. I pray and will work with all my might to ensure that the Israeli government will never evict families from their homes in this country. "
A poll published during the program showed that Bennett's party would receive 12 seats in the Knesset, making it the third largest faction in the Knesset. Likud-Beytenu and Labor maintained their top two spots, garnering 37 and 20 mandates, respectively.
Shas would win 11 seats, followed by Tzipi Livni's Hatenua with nine seats, and Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid would score seven seats. Meretz would have four seats.
The results are consistent with other recent polls that have showed that Bennett is gaining strength.
Reports early this week indicated that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu does not want Bennett in his next coalition.
The reason Netanyahu does not want Bayit Yehudi in his next government, sources close to him said, is that he wants "a more centrist" government, which will include a hareidi party and at least one party from the "center," in order to avoid "the ultra-rightist image that the current coalition suffers from."
On Wednesday, however, it was reported that Netanyahu has asked MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) to make clear to the religious public that he has no intention of barring the entrance of Bayit Yehudi into his next coalition.
Netanyahu reportedly said that he never told anyone that he intends to block Bennett and that this allegation is in fact a "spin" produced by Bennett himself, in order to pull religious Likud supporters into his camp.