Netanyahu and Yaalon
Netanyahu and YaalonIsrael news photo: Flash 90 (archive)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe (Bogie) Yaalon confirmed their good standing with each other late Thursday night following the uproar over the minister’s remark that foreign-supported Peace Now organization is a “virus.”

They disappointed Opposition critics, who called on the Prime Minister to dismiss Yaalon, a former IDF Chief of Staff, as one of the ministers who is part of the “inner six” in the Cabinet. Prime Minister Netanyahu reprimanded Yaalon, who explained that the ruckus was over a misinterpretation of remarks he made at a gathering with Moshe Feiglin, a long-time political nemesis of the Prime Minister.

Feiglin heads the Jewish Leadership faction that he established within the Likud party in an attempt to swing the party closer to nationalist views. However, Prime Minister Netanyahu did not refer to his minister’s appearance with Feiglin and said that as far he is concerned, the episode is a storm in a teacup.

The Strategic Affairs Minister did not retract his comments and pointed out that he said nothing that was against government policy, which he helps formulate. Concerning his labeling Peace Now a virus, he said he was referring to the organization’s views and not to the group itself.

Peace Now leader Yariv Oppenheimer rejected the explanation as “lip service.”

Yaalon's “virus" comment was made when someone at the meeting with Feiglin asked about government plans to destroy the hilltop community of Bnei Adam, north of Jerusalem. Yaalon lumped Peace Now with “elitists” that he said damage the country. “Jews can and need to live in all of the Land of Israel forever," he added.

The audience applauded Yaalon after he said, “”I am not afraid of the Americans,” who have been pressuring Israel to destroy hilltop communities and freeze all construction for Jews in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.

Earlier in the day, Feiglin toldIsrael National News TV, “It is very, very important for us to strengthen Yaalon and the other nationalist ministers in the Likud because if Yaalon crumbles now and backtracks under the offensive of the left, the message to the entire Likud will be that you cannot go against the left.”

Members of the young leadership of the National Union party sent a letter of support to Yaalon, in which they attacked the prime minister for defending the left. “It can't be that a man who was elected for the right wing platform he supports betrays his public time after time, as well as the 65 [Knesset] mandates that made him prime minister," the letter stated.