Economy Minister and Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett said on Thursday that he had been misquoted by the Haaretz newspaper earlier this week.
In an editorial published Wednesday, the newspaper included quotes that were previously published and in which Bennett supposedly told National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror that instead of keeping terrorists in jail in order to release them later, “they should simply be killed when they are caught.”
Amidror responded by saying that such activities are illegal, with Bennett responding that he had “killed many Arabs and I never had a problem.” The comments were allegedly made during a discussion that preceded the Cabinet’s vote to release 104 terrorists as a “gesture” to the Palestinian Authority.
Soon after the comments were originally made public, Arab MK Taleb Abu-Arar filed a complaint with Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein against Bennett, claiming that he was a “racist” because of the alleged comments.
Responding on his Facebook page, Bennett wrote, "Haaretz reported yesterday that I said, 'I killed a lot of terrorists in my life, and there is nothing wrong with it' and 'if you catch terrorists, just kill them.’"
“Just to remove any doubt, these words were not said,” he emphasized, adding that during the Cabinet meeting that dealt with the terrorist release he had suggested that IDF soldiers not be endangered by capturing live terrorists, “since they end up being released by the State in any case. A terrorist who endangers the lives of our soldiers during an operation should be killed.”
The Palestinian Authority took issue with Bennett’s comments last week, saying that the prisoners to be released were not terrorists and suggesting that it is, in fact, certain Israelis who should be called terrorists.
"Terrorists are those who occupy the lands of another people and displace them by force and settle in their place. Palestinian prisoners are strugglers for their freedom and not terrorists," the PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
The statement added that some Israeli officials were "terrorists."
"The definition of terrorism completely applies to many Israeli politicians who defame Palestinian prisoners especially those jailed before the Oslo Accords," said the PA Foreign Ministry.