The Bayit Yehudi party responded on Saturday night to criticism that was leveled at it by Likud minister Yuval Steinitz.
In an interview with Channel 2, Steinitz said 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.
Steinitz also said that “Ministers cannot demonstrate against government policy," to Minister Uri Ariel, who took part last Monday in a protest against the release of terrorist prisoners as a diplomatic "gesture."
Responding to Steinitz’s remarks, Bennett’s office said, "Minister Bennett was among the only ministers who opposed the release of prisoners and voted against it. However, when the plan was presented to him, he emphasized that he would oppose it but not leave the government.”
Officials in the Bayit Yehudi party told Arutz Sheva, "It would be better off if Steinitz, who voted in favor of releasing terrorists, not preach to Bennett who voted it.”
In recent days, MKs from some of the parties in the coalition have linked the terrorist release to construction approvals for homes in Judea and Samaria.
The religious Zionist Bayit Yehudi party rejects this link, saying that Israel has a right to build in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria whenever it wishes, regardless of whether it releases terrorists.
Before this past week’s release of 26 terrorists, the latest “gesture” to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Bayit Yehudi tried to pass a law that would prevent future releases of terrorists. The law was voted down by the Ministerial Law Committee.
The terrorist release and the proposed law caused tensions between the Bayit Yehudi and the Likud and Hatnua parties.
Before the Bayit Yehudi’s law was voted down, Interior Minister Gideon Saar of the Likud lashed out at Bennett, telling him that if the Bayit Yehudi members find it difficult to abide by government decisions, they should resign.