Minister Threatens to Leave 'Extreme Right' Government
Environment Minister Amir Peretz (HaTnua) said Saturday at a "Meet the Press" event that there is an alternative to a government without Jewish Home (Bayit Yehudi) Chairman Naftali Bennett - "but there is no government without the peace process."
"The Jewish Home is the National Hypocrisy Party," Peretz fired. "This party is the only reason we are in this debate about releasing [Arab] Israeli prisoners."
"They (the Jewish Home) are supposedly fighting for Pollard, but in fact they are going to keep him in prison" by opposing further terrorist prisoner releases, he said.
"The greatest audacity is what happened last week: Jewish Home, heroes of the state, those who stand for the IDF, have backed the events in Yitzhar through hints and winks," he added, referring to recent clashes between security forces and extremists in the Samaria (Shomron) town.
Bennett has strongly condemned attacks against the IDF in the community.
"It is time for [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu to decide whether this government is an extreme right-wing government or a government with the peace process continues," Peretz claimed. "We will either have a government with peace [talks], or peace in the government."
During the interview, Perez stated emphatically that his left-wing HaTnua party, "will not participate in an extreme right-wing government. We cannot continue to be partners in a government that does not have a peace process, and we will fight until the last minute to continue this process."
"Tzipi Livni is conducting a war unlike any other, for as long as there is a chance of renewing the peace process," he said.
Tensions in the Coalition
Last week, Bennett threatened to resign from the government if Arab-Israeli terrorists were released in a possible agreement to trade longtime captive Jonathan Pollard for the release of hundreds of Arab terrorists.
"Israel has been facing a new situation in recent days, with the Palestinian appeal to the UN which flagrantly violated all the agreements with them since the Oslo Accords until today,” Bennett stated Thursday. “The emerging deal, if it includes the release of murderers with Israeli citizenship, harms Israeli sovereignty, and not only that - it is done being when the Palestinians have not cancelled their requests to join international organizations."
"Therefore, if a proposal for release of Israeli murderers comes before the Cabinet, the Jewish Home will oppose it,” Bennett declared. “If the proposal will pass - the Jewish Home will resign from the government, which frees murderers with Israeli citizenship. Enough is enough."
Likud officials shrugged off the challenge late Thursday night, saying that Bennett's membership in the government makes no difference.
"We are not keeping anybody in the government by force," the officials declared. "This is a well-known method used by Bennett: to make threats when it is clear to him that they are false threats that will not come to fruition."
Peretz also slammed center-left party Yesh Atid, and Chairman Yair Lapid, for being "passive" in the debate over the future of peace talks and the Israeli government.
"Yair Lapid is a fan of peace. It's nice. He sits in the stands and applauds," he stated. "He does not come out into the field. I really think it's time for Lapid to descend into the [political] playing field and pay the price for his brother Bennett, who is not his natural family. I suggest that Lapid become more active rather than be a passive participant."
At the end of the interview, the Minister also referred to Israel's steps against the Palestinian Authority and Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, as retaliation for applying to international conventions.
"I think that these moves have no place [in the government] right now, and I wrote my own letter on it to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu about it," he said. "These processes do more damage than good."