Moshe Gafni
Moshe Gafni Hillel Meir/ TPS

Finance Committee Chairman Moshe Gafni (UTJ) on Wednesday responded to the commotion regarding MK Bezalel Smotrich's (United Right) statement that his party "want to return the Torah to its foundation."

Speaking to attendees of an Eilat conference, Gafni said his party is not interested in turning Israel into a "state of Jewish law."

"I never said that, I've seen a lot of coalition agreements for UTJ and it was never even hinted that UTJ would want Israel to be a state of Jewish law," Gafni told participants.

"It's true that there are those who want to make religion and state into a public issue, at any price, but we have a very clear goal of keeping the status quo, and this is what needs to continue. We want a Jewish and democratic state, we're not bringing the Holy Temple or the messiah by saying it or via laws, and so all discussions regarding a state of Jewish law are incorrect. We never asked and we do not ask for a state of Jewish law, we do not ask for a change and certainly we don't want a change for the worse."

Regarding the haredi parties' demand to separate men and women, Gafni said, "A woman comes and says, 'I want to make a Simchat Beit Hashoeva celebration for my friends, I don't want there to be men,' and then Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber comes along and said she can't do it. So I want to say, I was born in Tel Aviv, I lived in Ofakim, and no one will tell me or my wife how to live. Why does she think I'm going to tell [them]? Because I'm haredi? Such a thing never was and never will be."

Slamming Yisrael Beytenu Chairman Avigdor Liberman, Gafni continued, "When we talk about Liberman, we talk about the lack of trust, about the lies, about the hypocrisy. He lives with us, things were almost worked out, he was almost part of UTJ, and suddenly with no prior warning he changed. He's not harming the Torah world, he's harming the country, he's hypocritical and lies and doesn't say the truth. He makes Israel into a third-world country."