Bennett blasts 'self-flagellating, cynical' ex-defense ministers

Jewish Home leader criticizes former defense ministers for attacking gov't at Herzliya conference, challenges them to put up or shut up.

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Ari Soffer,

Naftali Bennett
Naftali Bennett
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett has hit back in response to criticisms of the current government by former defense ministers Moshe Ya'alon and Ehud Barak at last week's Herzliya Conference.

Both Barak and Ya'alon took aim at the government for being, in their view, too right-wing, and Ya'alon took the opportunity to announce his ambition to replace Binyamin Netanyahu as prime minister.

Slamming the "festival of self-flagellation and cynicism," the Education Minister derided both for their ominous warnings of a threat to Israeli democracy as a result of the Israeli government's increasing nationalist bent.

"Everything is terrible and our people are becoming brutalized," Bennett said sarcastically. "I totally refute this."

"I think we have undergone a difficult year against terrorism, and the nation of Israel defeated the terror on the streets with great bravery and courage," Bennett told Amy Radio.

"I see the education system improving in all aspects, I see our economy strengthening," he added.

"We are not a perfect country, we've got plenty to fix, but I do not share this pessimism which permeates the generals and all those who see brutalization and fascism," he continued sardonically.

Asked by left-wing journalist Meir Shelo if he is dismissing "the sincere concern of people who are Zionists worried about the future of the state under this government," Bennett was unimpressed.

"They should take the trouble to present their candidacy at the next elections - and they will either be elected or not," Bennett shot back, suggesting the critics pursue their alleged grievances via the democratic process.

"Democracy is a solution which works well, but it is possible that for some of these people the results of elections aren't acceptable," he continued, referring to the Israeli electorate's rejection of left-wing parties. "What can you do? We are a government of 66 mandates and we have positions.

"Ehud Barak, who suggested giving away the majority of the Old City (of Jerusalem) to 'Palestine', to return to the '67 lines and to retreat from the Golan (Heights) - the people didn't accept his position," he said of the former Labor prime minister, whose last attempt to salvage his political career via his now defunct "Independence" party failed spectacularly.

Despite that, Barak repeated his calls for Israeli concessions at last week's Herzliya Conference.

"If he thinks that what will bring the public to support him - let him stand for election," Bennett challenged.








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