Naftali Bennett
Naftali BennettYonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Education Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday said he backs the Israel Prize Committee's decision not to give the Israel Prize in Plastic Arts to artist Yair Garbuz.

Speaking at the Pais Forum for Economy and Education, Bennett said, "For too many years, we've spoken about culture and subculture. Someone defined what cultured means and what it doesn't mean."

"I'm not an expert in plastic art, but I know one thing: Every one of us is a 'handful,' but we are all one nation. Is the Rambam (Maimonides) a 'handful'? Our culture is a mix of all sectors of Israeli society, and no one has a monopoly over it.

"I support the Israel Prize Committee's decision.

"We are all a 'handful,' and we are all one proud nation.

"Members of a committee - all experts in their field - gathered again and again and did not manage to decide on a recipient for the prize. I decided not to have them meet again, and so, no one will receive the prize this year.

"I repeat: There is no 'handful,' and we are all one nation."

Israeli artist Yair Garbuz on Wednesday morning responded to Yediot Ahronot's report that he had not won the Israel Prize for Plastic Arts by refuting the claim that Bennett had preventing him from receiving it. Garbuz was said to have lost the National Union several seats when at a rally, he described what he said people like to call a 'handful' of people, such as those who kiss amulets, go to graves of the righteous and keep other primitive customs.

"It's a fake headline," Garbuz said. "I'll say one thing - because I'm not about to get into a new round of arguments with Bennett, who just cares about making headlines."

"There was a committee, and some of the members wanted to give me the prize, but they couldn't come to an agreement.

"Claiming Bennett decided not to give the prize to anyone this year is absurd.

"It's nice to be a candidate, and it's pleasant to have been thought worthy. It's not pleasant when someone makes up problems and thinks up fake headlines in order to make news.

"I'm happy I was a candidate, and I'm happy I won't receive the prize from Bennett.

"Bennett didn't cancel this year's prize, but the committee must make an unanimous decision. I didn't lose the Israel Prize - I never received it.

"What I lost is the opportunity to shake Bennett's hand, and I'll survive without that."