Education Minister: Defense Minister's behavior is 'provocative'

Education Minister Bennett says Defense Minister Liberman's visit to Ashdod mall on Shabbat was inappropriate and needlessly provocative.

Haim Lev,

Flash 90

Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) on Monday morning criticized Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) for visiting an Ashdod mall on Shabbat (the Sabbath). Liberman came to Ashdod to join protests against closing stores on the Jewish day of rest.

According to Bennett, Liberman's actions were "provocative" towards the traditional, religious, and haredi sectors of Israeli society. Israeli government officials are expected to observe Sabbath restrictions in public and Liberman had to travel by car to reach Ashdod.

"This isn't how officials behave, it's a provocation," Bennett told Reshet Bet. "What does it add? Who does it bring closer? Do we need more wars about religion? There are politicians who can divide the nation and bring themselves more votes by doing so. The desire to create chaos where there is none is inappropriate."

Bennett also said the issue centers on a political battle between Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid and Liberman himself, since both wish to draw votes from anti-religious voters.

"He and Yair Lapid are drawing votes at by encouraging polarization," he said.

On Sunday, Bennett called on Liberman and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) to "calm" the tension between them.

"It's easy to divide, but it's much harder to unite," he noted at the weekly Knesset meeting. "I call on my friends, both from the religious and secular camps, to stop this dance of the devil and to examine how they can live together."

"It's very easy to protest opposite a synagogue on Shabbat, and it's not too hard to incite an unnecessary religious war. But we live very well together - religious and secular, left and right, and we need to find a way to live together despite our differences, because we don't have any other country."