Bennett Orders 'Don't Attack Livni' For Coalition

Jewish Home members reportedly get text message telling them 'not to celebrate too much' and let Lapid and Livni do the talking.

Nir Har-Zahav, Ari Yashar ,

Tzipi Livni and Naftali Bennett
Tzipi Livni and Naftali Bennett
Flash 90

Following the security cabinet decision Thursday to suspend peace talks, the Jewish Home (Bayit Yehudi) party reportedly ordered its members to soften their tone against Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (HaTnua), Israel's chief negotiator in the talks.

In a text message that was sent to members of the party by its chairman, Economics Minister Naftali Bennett, Jewish Home MKs were asked not to attack Livni in the media so that she wouldn't leave the government and break up the coalition, reports Channel 2.

"At least several of you will make statements this afternoon," wrote Bennett in the message. "It's important not to celebrate too much, and to leave the platform for explaining the decision to (Finance Minister Yair) Lapid and Livni - they'll do that excellently."

Livni's "excellent" explanation was that "the decision to suspend the talks is the right decision, the combination of the PA and Hamas is bad."

Livni emphasized that of her Hatnua party members, "none of them think we need to leave the government, stressing that the talks have only been suspended and that "the door has not been shut today."

Blatant statements, backroom deals?

Just two weeks ago Uri Orbach, a Jewish Home MK and Minister of Pensioner Affairs, addressed Livni and said "leave [the government] already. Leave."

"They blame the whole world for talks failing, except for Livni's failure to advance the negotiations," said Orbach, adding "Hatnua is fictitious."

The following day, MK Amir Peretz of Livni's Hatnua party threatened to leave the government, which he called an "extreme right-wing government" under Jewish Home's influence.

Bennett's notice calling for political tactfulness comes amid other reported political maneuvering by the Jewish Home party.

compromise deal was reportedly being offered to the party by which it would backtrack on its "red line" of leaving the government if Israeli-Arab terrorists were freed to extend the talks, if the terrorists lost their citizenship and were expelled.

While Jewish Home's official stance on the release deal, which may no longer be relevant, remains unclear, Jewish Home MK and Housing Minister Uri Ariel on Tuesday made indications that it is under consideration.

When asked if the terrorists should lose their citizenship if released, he responded: "even if their citizenship is revoked, they should also be expelled."