Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) on Wednesday evening criticized Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch, for comments they made regarding the so-called “price tag” vandalism attacks.
Earlier Wednesday, at an emergency panel organized by Livni and attended by a slew of public officials, both Livni and Aharonovitch vowed a crackdown on “price tag” attacks and referred to them as acts of terrorism.
Ariel pointed out that while “price tag” incidents are a serious crime, they should not be equated to violent terrorism carried out by Arabs.
"Price tag is a serious offense and we must apprehend the criminals," he said, but added that one must differentiate between Arab terrorism against Jews and criminal acts of vandalism.
"The failure of the police and the Shin Bet time and time again to bring the criminals to justice does not turn these illegal acts and into terrorism,” said Ariel.
"Terrorism is murder and intent to kill by throwing rocks, shooting, firebombing, car bombs, and more," added Ariel, who and called to differentiate between real terrorism and serious acts that are "unrelated to the definition of terrorism."
At Wednesday’s panel, Livni referred to her constant condemnation of "price tag" attacks against Arabs.
"All those who are silent about hate crimes against Arabs, discovered that this incitement is also carried out against the IDF," Livni stated. "This happens not only in the dark hills of Judea and Samaria, but everywhere in Israel."
"This discussion seems theoretical, but we have already learned that words can turn into action," she continued. "This is a violation of Israel as a democratic state. The best PR in the world cannot explain away why this happens in a supposedly peaceful country."
Aharonovitch slammed the phenomenon as "very dangerous for co-existence between Jews and Arabs" and said that the Shin Bet and police are focusing on "price tag" instead of actual terrorism against Jews.
"The police, the Shin Bet, law enforcement - we are doing all we can, until the very last detail," the minister said. "There is also progress in a number of affairs, the details of which I will not go into."
The panel convened on the same day that a Yitzhar woman - who is eight months pregnant - was arrested for posting comments in a private forum saying she would willingly throw rocks at and kill an IDF soldier.
The news - which was revealed to have been acted upon only because an Israeli news site threatened to publish the story, some two weeks after the fact - made headlines and sparked intense debate over Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, the role of the public officials in the private sphere, and the freedom of speech.
Outrage has also snowballed over what many perceive as unwarranted focus on the community of Yitzhar, which has seen a slew of arrests, public demolitions, and accusations of police brutality over the past month.
Reacting to the arrest of the woman earlier Wednesday, Livni once again levelled criticism at Yitzhar and compared the entire settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria to “a wild west sown with hatred toward Arabs and toward the rule of law and its representatives.”