MK Orit Struk
MK Orit StrukIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Economy Minister and Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett on Sunday said that remarks by MK Orit Struk of his party about the death of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon were “very serious”.

"Indeed, the comments made by MK Orit Struk are very serious and should not have been made. I clarified the issue in a conversation with her. She issued a clarification and an apology. Let’s save the controversies for another day," wrote Bennett on his Facebook page in response to a user who asked, “How much longer will we be waiting for a condemnation of Mrs. Struk’s comments?"

In her reaction to Sharon’s death, Struk had said, "The truth must be said: Sharon was one of the great builders of the land of Israel, and its greatest destroyer. Someone who knew to defeat terror, and someone who caused all the south of the country to be hit by terror. His great firmness and ability to decide and act enabled him to reach impressive achievements, as well as disastrous processes."

She added, "Alongside our thanks and honor of the great contributions of Sharon to the state of Israel, it is impossible not to also thank G-d, that Sharon was taken from our public lives before he managed to carry out on the residents of Judea, Samaria and the 'Judea Samaria belt' the disaster he conducted on residents of Gush Katif and the Gaza Strip.”

Her remarks were met with outrage by many, including MK Karin Elharar (Yesh Atid), who wrote on her Facebook page, "Shame on you Orit Struk. As the State of Israel is mourning the death of a leader, MK Struk saw fit to get even. Her statements about the late Ariel Sharon serious hurt his family's feelings and the feelings of the Israeli public, who lost yesterday one of the most influential people on both its past and future.”

“Whether you agree or disagree with Sharon's moves, no one disputes that this is an important leader, a determined man who loved his country and followed what he believed in...Sometimes, when there is nothing smart to say, it’s better to just keep quiet,” added Elharar.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, one of the MKs who split the Likud in 2005 to form the Kadima party with Sharon, also condemned Struk’s remarks in an interview on Army Radio on Sunday morning.

"Until she and some of her friends were elected to the Knesset, we would argue that these are wild thorns,” said Livni, using the expression used by many leftists to describe what they see as radical rightists whose behavior is outside the pale and in need of being weeded out.

“She embarrassed the Knesset,” declared Livni, adding, “Had it been a wild thorn I would have moved on, but she is a representative of a major political party which signed an alliance with my friends."

It should be noted that Struk issued a clarification several hours after issuing her initial statement, in which she said, “I did not wish for Sharon to be ill and I certainly did not hope that this would be the way that his tenure would come to an end. There’s no happiness in me about the way his life ended.”

"In reality, the fact that he could not continue his plans of destruction and expulsion saved the State of Israel. I apologize to anyone who was hurt by my remarks,” she added.

Bennett, for his part, chose to praise Sharon's military achievements and consciously skip criticism over his 2005 "Disengagement" plan that expelled all Jews from Gaza - saying that the time was not appropriate.

"In the end of his days (Sharon) initiated and carried out the 'Disengagement' plan - the destruction of Gush Katif and the expulsion of 8,000 of its residents," noted Bennett. "This evening let us remember his great acts, and leave aside dispute over his end to other days. May his memory be a blessing," he said.