Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu hinted on Friday that he would not include Bayit Yehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett in his coalition because of Bennett's remarks, that if he were ordered to expel Jews from their homes, he would ask his commander to release him from duty.
"I'm not prepared to have anyone who reveres refusal of orders in my government," Netanyahu told Channel 10 News.
"Bennett's statement is very serious in my opinion," he added. "I think the idea of refusal, even as a natural inclination, is something which is simply not acceptable. If every soldier decides that he likes or dislikes certain orders, we won't have an IDF and we won't have a state. I am not willing to accept such a thing."
On Thursday, Bennett said during a television interview that if he ever receives an order to evict Jews, he would ask his commander to release him from his position and added he would be willing to serve time in prison over this issue. While he did not advocate refusing to obey orders and was himself a member of the IDF elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit, candidates from other parties were quick to seize the opportunity to claim that he did.
Even before Thursday's interview there were reports that 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.
In another interview which aired on Channel 2 News on Friday, Netanyahu was asked about his government's decision to promote new homes in Jerusalem.
"We live in the Jewish State," he said. "Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people and the Western Wall is not an occupied territory. I do not care what the UN says. Will the Jewish State not be built on Israeli territory?"
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)