Steinitz: Bennett Knew of 'Terrorists for Homes'

Likud minister says Bayit Yehudi was privy to the decision to free terrorists and approve construction "in return."

Gil Ronen,

Minister Yuval Steinitz
Minister Yuval Steinitz
Flash 90

Likud minister Yuval Steinitz said Saturday that Bayit Yehudi party chairman Naftali Bennett was privy to the government's decision to free terrorist prisoners and to sweeten the bitter pill by approving construction in Judea and Samaria.

Bennett has said that the claim he knew about the deal is "all lies," and that "at no point was I updated on such a deal."

Steinitz said on Channel 2's Meet the Press that "Bennett took part in the decision that was made in consultation with all [Coalition] partners. Bayit Yehudi's behavior was out of line. Ministers cannot demonstrate against government policy."

He was referring to Minister Uri Ariel, who took part last Monday in a protest against the release of terrorist prisoners as a diplomatic "gesture."

Steintz said that US Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the different options for "gestures" with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and that once they reached agreement, Netanyahu told Kerry he needed to get his coalition partners' approval. "It will take me an hour or two to speak with all of them," he said to Kerry.  "In other words, it was clear that the Prime Minister would not opt for this move without the approval of all the other parties."

"It is problematic to release terrorists," Steintz said, but it was clear to all of us that freezing construction would be seven times more difficult, and that in the wider view, it is the less serious problem."