Bennett speaks at Jewish Home party conference
Bennett speaks at Jewish Home party conferenceCourtesy

Education Minister and Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett has taken aim at controversial comments by one of his own party's MKs, who spoke in support of separate rooms in maternity wards for Jewish and Arab mothers.

Speaking at the start of the Jewish Home party conference in Yad Binyamin, Bennett began his address by deriding left-wing politicians and commentators who reacted angrily to Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked's strident criticism of the Supreme Court's partisan, interventionist policies.

"Nobody is immune from criticism, not even the Supreme Court," he said in defense of Shaked, also of the Jewish Home.

"I hear the rhetoric from the opposition against the Justice Minister, and I say to them: today this still seems strange to you, but I assure you you'll get used to it within a year," Bennett retorted. "It's called: democracy."

Moving on, Bennett dismissed comments by MK Bezalel Smotrich, who said Jewish and Arab mothers should not be in the same hospital room if they request it.

In a flurry of statements Tuesday, Smotrich claimed noisy post-birth parties held by Arab families disturb Jewish mothers who "prefer to rest" after birth, and later doubled down following criticism by saying many women - including his own wife - "wouldn’t want to lie down (in a bed) next to a woman who just gave birth to a baby who might want to murder her baby twenty years from now."

Bennett said his party's position within the government "requires us to be responsible" and respect the will of the majority without trampling on the rights of minority groups.

"No to divisive discourse, and no to hatred of the 'other': whether Jews or Arabs," he said.

"Everyone is human. Everyone is created in the Image of God, and every individual has a unique soul, a family, a will to live with dignity," Bennett added.

"The national camp is not (about) hating Arabs and hating 'the other,'" he emphasized. "It is (about) loving mankind, loving Israel. It is loving the land (of Israel), loving the army, loving the Torah, and loving the entire nation."

The evening concluded with votes on changes to a number of Jewish Home party bylaws, all of which passed.