MK Yariv Levin
MK Yariv LevinIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Coalition Head Yariv Levin (Likud) has slammed Justice Minister Tzipi Livni over her comments on coalition politics and the Jewish Home party.

Livni, who heads Israel’s negotiating team in talks with the Palestinian Authority, has suggested that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should replace the Jewish Home party with hareidi factions. Livni has repeatedly accused the Jewish Home of derailing Israel-PA talks.

Livni’s suggestion “is based on the incorrect assumption that the Israeli side is the one preventing progress in negotiations,” Levin told Arutz Sheva. “This is fundamentally wrong.”

“The problem is the other side,” he accused, adding, “When Israel and the Prime Minister are standing up for vital Israeli interests, the attempt to weaken Israel’s position through changes to the coalition seems to me impossible to implement.”

“Aside from that, anyone who thinks that getting the Jewish Home out [of government] will pave the way for concessions is completely wrong in their assessment of the situation within the Likud,” he continued. Likud members, too, are against the concessions Livni is pushing, he explained.

Levin pointed to several leading Likud members, including government ministers, who have not only spoken out against conceding strategically important territory, but have taken part in demonstrations. Minister Yisrael Katz spoke last week at a demonstration near Maaleh Adumim, he noted, while other ministers have taken part in tours supporting Israeli settlement in the Jordan Valley.

“I don’t think that Minister Livni has a chance of obtaining her goal,” he declared.

An “overwhelming majority” of Likud politicians support Israeli settlement in Judea and Samaria, he said – and that helps in negotiations. “It assists the Prime Minister, it allows him to present a strong front,” he explained.

“It’s particularly notable in light of the irresponsibility demonstrated by Livni, and by some members of Yesh Atid, who encourage concessions and weaken the Israeli stance,” he argued.

Bennett was Right – but Disrespectful

Levin also shed new light on reports of a near-split between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Minister of Economy Naftali Bennett, the head of the Jewish Home party. Netanyahu was rumored to have prepared a dismissal letter for Bennett after Bennett slammed a rumored plan to leave Israelis living under Palestinian Authority rule; the two later reconciled after Bennett apologized.

The dismissal letter really was ready to send, said Levin, who reported seeing the letter himself. He noted that he agrees with Bennett’s criticism of the plan in question, but believes his criticism should have been phrased more respectfully.

Bennett attacked the plan as if it was Netanyahu’s brainchild, when in fact the idea was floated by senior staffers in his office, Levin said.

Netanyahu does not support the proposal at all, he declared. “We didn’t establish a state just to send Jews to live under foreign rule,” he explained.