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      Bennett: Jewish Home Could Leave Coalition Over Kerry Plan

      Bennett rejects coalition 'soap opera,' says will leave coalition if peace deal doesn't meet his party's values.
      By Ari Yashar
      First Publish: 2/4/2014, 3:03 PM

      Naftali Bennett
      Naftali Bennett
      Nissim Lev

      Economics Minister Naftali Bennett spoke Tuesday about the peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA), and warned that his Jewish Home party is considering leaving the coalition depending on the progression of the talks.

      Speaking about the 'nationalist camp' at Arutz Sheva's 11th Jerusalem Conference, Bennett remarked "for many years we were sectors, when you're sectorial you have the luxury of not really needing to confront the conflicts and dilemmas of managing the country on all its levels, security and finance."

      In terms of the controversial process of mandating Hareidi-religious Jews to enlist in the IDF, Bennett claimed that in the coming weeks an "historical process" will be anchored in new laws.

      "We see before our eyes tens of thousands of young hareidim who are confused under very difficult distress," stated Bennett. "Many aren't able to study Torah and reach the age of 30 without knowing the multiplication table. The entire hareidi society is collapsing around this issue."

      "In another 3 weeks the Shaked Council will finish its work, and for the first time all hareidim will receive 4 years of full exemption to keep them from jail, which a significant portion of them are currently facing," remarked Bennett, claiming that "70% of them are not able to study Torah all of their lives."

      Coalition 'soap opera'

      Bennett spoke about his at times tense alliance with Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid. "Israel chose a certain government and the fact is it didn't want Jewish Home in the coalition. We thought it would be worth it for us to be in the coalition, so without a choice we went for the alliance with Lapid. Today you can't really call it an alliance, there's cooperation."

      Tensions have grown between Jewish Home and Yesh Atid recently, as Bennett recently called Yesh Atid a "dictatorship" for not holding primaries. The two have also disagreed as to whether a peace deal would harm or help the economy.

      Another topic that rose was pressure between Bennett and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, which reached boiling point last week, when Netanyahu gave Bennett an ultimatum to apologize or retire, after Bennett criticized Netanyahu's proposal to have Jews live under the Palestinian Authority (PA).

      Reports have indicated that Netanyahu's wife Sarah has been involved in stoking tensions with Bennett since the time he was the director of Netanyahu's office as prime minister over a decade ago. When asked whether tensions with Sarah Netanyahu have harmed his work in the government, Bennett answered "the private issues of the prime minister are private and I don't intend to discuss that. It doesn't interest me, I'm interested in serving the state of Israel."

      "I'm here to work for the people of Israel, it's not a soap opera that you need to analyze the relationships, and the prime minister comes to work in the same way," stated Bennett. "We have certain disputes, and in the end I know him well, and he cares about the security of Israel and the benefit of the people of Israel."

      Bennett reiterated that if a peace agreement that does not fit Jewish Home's values is presented, his party would leave the coalition to block the move. "If it won't match our values we won't be (in the coalition), and if it does, we'll be there to strengthen the prime minister."

      Former MK Michael Ben-Ari has criticized Jewish Home last December, arguing after the release of terrorist murderers that the party wouldn't leave the coalition even if a peace deal threatens Israeli withdrawals.

      "Whoever doesn't leave the government of blood that frees predators who burned and murdered babies, women and men in an intoxication of murder, will not leave the government, even when they expel and uproot Jews," stated Ben-Ari.