'We Want to See Yesh Atid Leave the Coalition'
Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) dismissed threats from Yesh Atid to leave the coalition government on Sunday, stating in a special interview with Arutz Sheva on Monday that the threats only "give us more motivation [to act]."
Lapid threatened to leave the coalition at the Herzliya Conference Sunday if Israel annexed large settlement blocs, a plan pushed forward by Economics Minister and Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett.
Ariel responded not only with defiance, but also stressing that his party does not wish to see the government collapse.
Instead, he said, "we want to have a future where there is an option for Yesh Atid to leave and for the Prime Minister to allow the hareidi parties to enter."
"With regard to the threats, they don't intimidate me," he added.
Ariel added that the option for the hareidi parties to enter the coalition and replace Yesh Atid is the "opinion of most, if not all, members of [Jewish Home]."
The Minister also addressed concerns that a coalition with the hareidi parties could cause a major rift in the government - this time with the Jewish Home. The parties have had major political differences before, most notably over the Equal Burden of Service Law (also known as the hareidi draft law).
"There are rifts and there is anger, but at the same time, the national-Religious and hareidi communities have a great interest in joining together and strengthening Torah values, both in the World and in Israel," he said.
He rejected claims that the hareidi leadership would rather see the coalition break down and the country go to elections instead of simply replacing Yesh Atid in the coalition.
'We must have sovereignty over all of Israel'
Regarding Lapid, Ariel stated that he specifically differs over the Finance Minister's opposition to integrating the roughly two million Palestinian Arabs in the Palestinian Authority (PA) as citizens of Israel.
While Lapid has threatened to go to elections over the issue, according to Ariel, the decision is a matter between choosing to integrate the Arabs or choosing to lose the golden opportunity for autonomy over Judea and Samaria.
"This is the situation today," he stated. "The situation today is that we need to have sovereignty over all those living west of the Jordan - even if the international community does not always agree with us."
He added that the idea is picking up steam, slowly, in several international arenas - and that now, when the Prime Minister begins speaking again about the "Two-State Solution," he faces problems of internal and external opposition to the idea.
But the two-state solution may soon face more internal opposition from Likud, Ariel says. He echoed Bennett's statements, after the faction head stated Monday that Jewish Home has made several political victories.
"We see ourselves as having more and more influence, and in Likud we hear many voices who agree with us," Ariel stated. "We should remind everyone that neither the Likud, nor the Knesset, nor the Cabinet has confirmed what the Prime Minister said [about a unilateral withdrawal from parts of Judea and Samaria- ed.]."
Minister Ariel concluded by stating that he believes that the currently political reality includes beginning a shift in consciousness and internalization of the need for political change. The process is a matter of small steps, he said, referring to the latest push to establish sovereignty over Gush Etzion.
"The public will [slowly begin to] understand that Gush Etzion, as well as other areas, should be in the hands of Israel," he reflected, echoing his party leader's comments. "There is no demographic problem [there] so it is definitely a possibility."
"After we have exhausted all other means and saw that we could not follow the [land-swapping initiatives of] [Ehud] Barak and [Ehud] Olmert, the public is understanding more and more in what direction we should go - and we should go there, even if it takes time."