Bennett: We split with Smotrich because we abandoned extremism

Yamina chairman says Religious Zionist party split away due to Yamina's willingness to appeal to other sectors of society.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Channel 13 News

Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett responded to the claims of the Religious Zionist party Wednesday night and sharply criticized his former partner Bezalel Smotrich.

"Smotrich has split off and I wish him well. If there is a competition of being even more extreme, divisive and provocative - I'm not into that," Bennett said in an interview with Channel 13 News.

Bennett said that the split occurred because some are uncomfortable with how open Yamina has become. "There is a very big change - the right today is officially open to all the people of Israel. Many people who until today felt that they could not join the right because of extremism and disrespect of various people in Israeli society, can feel that we are the home of all the people of Israel."

When asked specifically why he and Smotrich had split apart ahead of the March elections, Bennett replied: "It's because of two things: endless extremism and provocations."

"One of the reasons for the separation is endless extremism and provocations. I am attacked for being interviewed on a program broadcast on Saturday. This is my way, and for 10 years I have been interviewed on programs broadcast on Saturday. I am married to a woman from a non-religious home and I do not identify as part of that sector. We are one people," Bennett said.

The Religious Zionist Party responded: "The cat's out of the bag. Despite Bennett's attempts to pass the blame for the split on Smotrich, he today really admitted that he threw aside Smotrich and religious Zionism out of his desire to look good to the secularists in the center and left. All the values ​​of the right and religious Zionism were pushed to the side."

"We see that Naftali decided to throw mud in sectoral wars, but this is not our way. We will not be dragged or drag the public who want positive campaigns into this. We will speak of our values ​​proudly and try to represent religious Zionism and the entire people of Israel. And we call on Bennett to stop this behavior," the party responded.