Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud Beytenu) spoke to Arutz Sheva about Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett's criticism of a proposal to have Jews live under the Palestinian Authority (PA). Hotovely defended the statements as legitimate criticism.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office floated out the proposal Sunday, and later claimed it did so to reveal the PA's "true face," as PA Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat rejected the idea the same day.
Netanyahu reportedly is furious with Bennett for expressing criticism, leading to a crisis between the two that threatens the coalition government.
Hotovely began by refusing to discuss the Bennett-Netanyahu schism, calling it "mere gossip." Instead she spoke about the recently revealed details of US Secretary of State John Kerry's peace proposal, which would create a Palestinian state along the 1949 Armistice lines and make a PA capital in "East Jerusalem."
The MK said the "dangerous and destructive plan that we're making great strides towards" is unacceptable in the Likud as well.
Hotovely confirmed reports that she and other Likud MKs plan to "rebel" against Netanyahu in the near future to stop the plan. She reports that the "rebels" in fact constitute an overwhelming majority of the Likud who "oppose all plans of a loss of Israeli sovereignty, and from there we will start a systematic political organization."
"We'll give the prime minister a clear message that these are things that will not be heard in Likud policy," warned Hotovely.
Asked about the silence of government ministers in response to the proposal of Jews living under the PA, Hotovely said she wasn't sure if they were afraid of losing their positions or thought the proposal was just spin that could be ignored.
Hotovely called the idea of leaving Jews under the PA "something opposing all our basic principles that we will defend ourselves and that this is our homeland that we don't intend to split with any other people. Therefore I expect that ministers will express opposition to these ideas, even if they're just ideas."
'Netanyahu's tactics erodes the basic ideology that voted him in'
The Likud minister expressed support for Bennett's criticism of Netanyahu, saying those who respond to ideas of this sort early on is doing the right thing.
"In a reality in which negotiations are being held very secretly without any public transparency, we have to do everything every time there's a leak," Hotovely said. "It's important to attack these ideas while they're still small and young, and not wait for them to get a political and public hold, then we'll find ourselves in the middle of a division of the country."
Hotovely also offered her opinion on Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz's (Likud Beytenu) suggestion that Bennett apologize to Netanyahu because an "agreement will never be reached." In her words, the suggestion is mistaken.
"I think everyone, even a minister in the Israeli government, has the right to criticize positions of the government," commented Hotovely. She added that Israel has time and again used tactics that lead to a destructive strategy.
Responding to Netanyahu's claim that the proposal was a tactic to expose the PA's "true face," Hotovely fired back, saying "there's no need for political juggling and acrobatics to prove to the world" that Abbas is demanding the release of murderers as part of the peace talks, doesn't recognize the state of Israel, "and declared the Palestine will be judenrein (free of Jews)."
"There's no need to take off the mask. There is no mask," said Hotovely. "Every process like this that the prime minister calls a tactic erodes the basic ideology that caused the people in Israel to choose him to lead this country."
'We have to put limitations on the negotiations'
When asked whether Netanyahu was responsible for the proposals, or if he was being possibly misrepresented by someone close to him, Hotovely said "the one responsible for what comes from the prime minister's table is the prime minister."
Hotovely reasoned that particularly given the large US pressure on Netanyahu to concede to the plans, it was very important to present to him political limitations to restrict his ability to submit to external pressure.
"Not every tactical step justifies the peace talks. I don't think that the negotiations are essential for the state of Israel," stated Hotovely. Before the negotiations "we didn't see a tsunami of boycotts. In the reality of the changing Middle East the state of Israel must guard its values and borders, and from my opposition to a division of the land I oppose all ideas that are currently on the negotiating table."