Officials in the Likud party fired back on Sunday, after Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over what he called a “missed opportunity” to change the direction of U.S.-Israel relations in light of the decision to reduce (but not completely stop) construction in Judea and Samaria.
"It is amusing to read Bennett's tweets about Prime Minister Netanyahu, who acts with determination, wisdom and responsibility for the security of Israel and for the settlement enterprise," the officials said.
"Bennett is the last person who can preach about withstanding pressure when he, as Minister of Education, gives in to pressure from the New Israel Fund within the Education Ministry, leaves Mahmoud Darwish in the curriculum, gives responsibility for civics studies to extreme leftists, and turns a blind eye to Palestinian incitement in schools in the Arab sector and eastern Jerusalem that are funded by the Ministry of Education which he heads,” charged the ruling party.
Bennett's comments came several days after Netanyahu told the Security Cabinet that Israel would significantly reduce construction in Judea and Samaria, in line with President Donald Trump's views on the issue.
On Sunday, it was reported that the Prime Minister had presented the cabinet with a package of good-will gestures for the Palestinian Authority.
In a post on his Twitter account, Bennett wrote that the plans presented by Netanyahu were “reasonable and balanced – assuming they are implemented as described.”
“There is no quantitative restriction,” continued Bennett. “[But] from my experience we’ll need to ensure that [the plan] is implemented.”
But in a follow-up post Bennett lamented another aspect of Netanyahu's talks with Trump, what he termed a “missed strategic opportunity,” arguing that the Prime Minister failed to present the new White House with alternatives to the two-state solution.
Bennett emphasized that he did not blame President Trump for the unchanged paradigm.
“The story isn’t about President Trump; it’s about the position of the Israeli government. Because we did not lay out a firm Israeli initiative on the table, the vacuum was filled by the two-state solution,” he wrote.
“Like I said, that’s a historic opportunity that’s been missed. In life you have to take advantage of opportunities.”