Jewish Home chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett strongly criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday morning, after Netanyahu made statements the previous night at the site of the Tel Aviv shooting attack that took place Friday.
Speaking outside the pub where two Jews were gunned down and nine others were wounded by an Arab terrorist who holds Israeli citizenship, Netanyahu said, "there is wild radical Islamic incitement against the State of Israel in the Arab sector." The same terrorist reportedly murdered a taxi driver an hour later.
"I am not prepared to accept two States of Israel, a state of law for most of its citizens and a state within a state for some of them, in enclaves in which there is no law enforcement and in which there is Islamic incitement, rampant crime and illegal weapons that are frequently fired at events such as weddings. This era has ended," stated the prime minister.
However, Bennett did not take kindly to Netanyahu's criticism of the Arab sector, as he made clear in an interview on Sunday morning with Israel Radio.
The Jewish Home chairman said he "doesn't place responsibility for the attack in Tel Aviv on the Arab sector in Israel. Most of them are trying to be a normative part of the state."
"If there is a failure, the failure is of the state by not enforcing the law in Arab villages and cities, and the Arabs are the first ones to implore us to enforce the law fully," he added.
"I turn the accusing finger on us," said Bennett.
The minister said Israel is responsible because it "did not know how to bring close the normative majority of the Arab public in Israel over the years, and alongside this (Israel) also didn't punish the subversive minority with a hard hand."
Advocate of the Arab sector
Despite Bennett's accusations regarding enforcement, Netanyahu in his statements specifically spoke about formulating a plan with the Public Security Minister and the police chief - costing "a lot of money and resources" - to increase law enforcement in the Arab sector.
Bennett's comments echo statements he made in November 2014, when he claimed that "99.9% of Arab citizens are loyal to the state of Israel." That estimation was thrown into doubt by a poll just days after it was made, which found that roughly a third of Israeli Arabs supported the terror wave that was taking place at the time, blaming Israel for it.
Likewise in November 2015, a poll found 57% of Israeli Arabs feel the radical Islamic Movement in Israel that is funded by Hamas represents them faithfully, and 18.2% of Arab Muslim citizens of Israel said they do not consider Islamic State (ISIS) to be a radical terrorist organization, and that they are not ashamed of the brutal jihadist group.
Bennett has long sought to be an advocate for the Arab Israeli public. In the last government as Economics Minister he oversaw a $2.5 million program integrating Arabs in the hi-tech industry. In March 2013, he told the Europe Israel Press Association (EIPA) that the issue of increasing the number of Arab women in the workforce is "his baby."
As Education Minister, last August he launched a $7.9 million plan to teach Arab students Hebrew in kindergarten, to improve Arab employment and economic power, and last month in December he announced that he is establishing the "first Arab college" in Israel.