Livni: Bennett Speaks for 'Settlers' - Not the Common Israeli
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni sharply criticized Economics Minister Naftali Bennett Monday, after the Jewish Home party leader remarked at a faction meeting that a Palestinian state would "crush" the Israeli economy.
"The Economics Minister must decide if he represents the Israeli people, or just the residents of isolated settlements," Livni insisted.
"In these trying times, when both left-wing and right-wing businessmen are deeply concerned about the future of the Israeli economy, the person in charge of that economy actually prefers to listen to extremist Rabbis," Livni claimed.
"The role of a responsible, Zionist leader is not to side with policies that isolate Israel and damage the economy and every Israeli citizen, but instead to push for a political agreement which could advance Israel's status in the international community, strengthen Israel's economy and security, and secure a Jewish, Democratic state."
Earlier Monday, Bennett had stressed Israel's need to maintain its borders and independence for economic growth, despite mounting pressure from the European Union and others to divide Israel in the face of boycotts.
During his speech, Bennett demonstrated on a map what the borders would look like if Judea and Samaria were given to the Palestinian Authority (PA), showing that the region provides access for missiles to fall on the center of Israel, especially the Tel Aviv area.
"Imagine if just one missile per day fell on Herzliya Pituah, what that would do to Israel's economy. If even one plane which was supposed to land at Ben Gurion Airport crashes (due to terrorism) per year, it would crush the Israeli economy," he elaborated.
"We have had economic pressures placed upon us - I'm not denying it," Bennett fired. "There may be a budding boycott movement, but why should we give away our land because of it? Why should we divide Jerusalem because of that?"
The European Union has been unrelenting in its criticism of Israel's construction in Judea and Samaria. The EU promotes boycotts of products made beyond 1949 Armistice lines, and has effectively redrawn Israel's borders to those lines in policies to its member states.
Recently, the EU has gone so far as to offer "unprecedented" aid packages to both Israel and the PA in the event that a two-state solution - and a withdrawal - results from negotiations.