Rabbi Yaakov Medan
Rabbi Yaakov Medan Eliran Aharon

Yeshivat Har Etzion head Rabbi Yaakov Medan, one of the leading religious Zionist rabbis, backs cabinet ministers Bennett and Shaked's not resigning from the government, calling Bennett's accusers libelous. He also criticizes the Prime Minister's response to Bennett's speech.

In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Rabbi Medan was asked if he, too, had been privy to consultations prior to ministers Shaked and Bennett's decision and he answered in the affirmative without elaborating. "There were consultations and there were also appeals to us from the political echelon, and I won't elaborate. The logic was simple: In such matters even where there is doubt about manipulation, but there's a possibility of a serious problem to open us from a security point of view, in such a case dissolution of the government wouldn't be correct.

"I very much justify Jewish Home's intention to slam the door and say in such a situation we cannot take responsibility, but in such a reality, when something's liable to happen in the coming days or weeks, retracting this position was justified," says Rabbi Medan.

When asked if he and other rabbis heard hints of possible security sensitivity and not mere spin, Medan replied cautiously: "There were hints, but I can't say there was more than that: Bennett and Shaked are supposed to know things better. There was concern of tension and this is not the time to resign, certainly not when it's unjustifiably interpreted by someone as a personal attempt by a minister to be appointed to another position."

As to whether the very idea of demanding Bennett's appointment as defense minister is right and appropriate, or if it represents a tendency of religious Zionism to sit at the right-hand of the political helm, Rabbi Medan rejects claims of considerations of personal and sectoral prestige: "It's not about prestige or about religious sector. A defense minister has to be the best person to lead the security forces to victory rather than containment. There's no connection to Naftali Bennett's chairmanship of Jewish Home. I think Naftali Bennett is one of the leaders in the line of victory and not containment in this campaign.

"It obliges us towards the residents of the south if we don't want to reach the reality on the eve of the Second Lebanon War when two-thirds of Kiryat Shmona's residents abandoned. It takes someone to lead a line of victory and not containment and Bennett is one of the leaders in this, regardless of his name and sector."

Regarding the attack on Jewish Home accusing them of flip-flopping and hanging on to the seat of power, Rabbi Medan says with absolute finality: "I state unequivocally: I know this issue like the back of my hand in all its details. It was a matter of national responsibility. Naftali Bennett's speech was a great lesson in Zionism. For a long time I haven't heard such a Zionist speech. It was national responsibility and not flip-flopping or hoarding power. That's libel by those who are trying to minimize us for no real reason."

In his remarks, Rabbi Medan criticizes the Prime Minister's response to Bennett's speech and decision. He even says he found the way to convey his criticism of Netanyahu. "IDF soldiers aren't afraid, but there's too much legal red tape, and this is true. I didn't like Netanyahu's reaction. As leader, he should have reacted completely differently to what Bennett did. Bennett's political concession, for which he's paying a very heavy price, was made only for a Zionist reason, as much as possible to connect with the people right before the possibility of a security turnaround. That was the right thing to do.

"He still has the key to exit if nothing changes, but I believe something will change from a security perspective, leaving us in. I'm not entirely sure, but I try to be optimistic."

בנט: "מסירים את כל דרישותינו הפוליטיות"