Bayit Yehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett denied Saturday evening that he had called on soldiers to refuse orders to evict Jews from their homes in a television interview last week. He accused Likud of playing a dangerous game in turning the interview into a major election issue.
"This evening, I turn to tens of thousands of youths and IDF soldiers who see me as a role model," he said. "Because of political games and media spin, the IDF's unity could be seriously damaged. Tens of thousands of youths might mistakenly think that I have called for refusal, and take a personal example from me based on this mistake.
"First, the facts: I never called for refusal of orders. Not in the interview with Nissim Mishal and not anywhere else, ever.
"I have served in the IDF for 22 years, as a combat soldier and commander. I fought in all of Israel's campaigns during this time, including unknown ones. I repeat: I never called for refusal of orders, and any intelligent viewer understands this. But in the Likud and the political arena they pounced on my statements, twisted them around, and created the impression that I had called for refusal of orders. In order to gain a quarter of a Knesset seat, they compromised the IDF's unity.
"On Thursday I spoke from the depth of my heart and I do not apologize for what I said. However, I am now not a private individual but a public figure, and I will say things in the clearest possible way: an order to uproot an Arab village or a Jewish community is a fatal blow to the most basic human rights, and it places the soldiers before a heart wrenching dilemma between human rights on the one hand, and the obligation to obey orders on the other.
"This is an unbearable dilemma. I pray with my entire heart that such an order will not be given again, ever, but in the bottom line, if worst comes to worst, I say clearly: a soldier must obey the military's orders.
"On the eve of elections, The Likud's preoccupation with the question of whether soldiers will expel Jews from their homes again or not, says it all," he added. "Likud with partners from the Left could bring upon us another Disengagement. I call upon Prime Minister Netanyahu to take back his agreement to a Palestinian state.
"Mister Prime Minister – yes or no? Do you intend to uproot Jews from their homes again? We will be a large and meaningful party in order to prevent a situation in which IDF soldiers again have to face such dilemmas, which are not humanly bearable."