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Netanyahu Reprimands Bennett Over Gaza Criticism

Heated argument breaks out between PM and Jewish Home chairman at Cabinet meeting.
By Uzi Baruch and Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/21/2014, 1:13 AM

Naftali Bennett and Binyamin Netanyahu
Naftali Bennett and Binyamin Netanyahu
Flash 90

Channel 2 News reported on Wednesday evening that a heated argument broke out between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett at that day’s Cabinet meeting.

According to the report, Netanyahu reprimanded the Jewish Home chairman during the meeting and demanded that Bennett stop speaking out against the government’s policy in Gaza.

Arutz Sheva has learned that Bennet arrived at the Cabinet meeting and demanded that Netanyahu immediately stop negotiating with terrorist organizations in Cairo. Bennett asked Netanyahu to promise in front of the other ministers to stop the talks, but Netanyahu refused, and at one point the two began arguing loudly. At the end of the meeting, Netanyahu's aides told reporters that the Prime Minister reprimanded the Bennett.

Bennett’s officer responded to the report and said, "Minister Bennett does not think that one negotiates with a terrorist organization, period. His opinion will not change.”

Though he did not mention any names, Netanyahu during his press conference regarding Gaza on Wednesday evening called on the Cabinet ministers to stop "mouthing empty slogans" in the media.

"I expect everyone to be responsible," Netanyahu said. "Do not mouth empty slogans that do not stand the test of considerations we need to make. There are military considerations, political considerations, economic considerations and other considerations. Those are our guiding principles."

Netanyahu was backed by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who said at the same press conference, "I suggest that my minister colleagues put aside political considerations during the fighting. It is unthinkable that while our soldiers are fighting and while we are burying our dead, criticism will be sounded. At the end of the day we have a collective responsibility and there are places to express criticism.”

Bennett earlier this week called on Israel to immediately halt negotiations in Cairo, saying any truce agreement is bound to bring another war with Hamas. 

"This situation, in which we are biting our nails in nervous anticipation of a reply from a murderous terrorist organization should be stopped," Bennett urged. "We must immediately stop negotiations with Hamas, and take fate into our own hands, under a simple premise: humanitarianism - yes, terrorism - no." 

Bennett explained that instead of acquiescing to Hamas's demands via international mediation, Israel should instead address civilian casualties in Gaza by increasing humanitarian aid - and then hitting Hamas hard in retaliation for future rocket attacks. Throughout the month-long conflict, Israel continued to provide humanitarian aid to Gazans despite the ongoing rocket fire on Israelis.

"Gazans face [the decision of] allowing passing humanitarian goods into Gaza, such as food and medicine, as we work against all the weapons or tunnels and the option of allowing senior Hamas officials to operate unrestricted," he said. "Every other proposal binds our hands and bring the next war." 

Bennett has pushed for Israel to cease negotiations on multiple occasions, as a shaky temporary ceasefire with Hamas and Islamic Jihad continues despite the dubious reliability of such a pact. 

Last week, Bennett slammed the idea of "calm for cash," noting that the time and money afforded by the ceasefire is allowing terror organizations to rearm.