Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night responded to Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s clarification of his comments calling to “wipe out” the Arab village of Huwara.
“It is important for all of us to work to tone down the rhetoric and lower the temperature. That includes speaking out forcefully against inappropriate statements and even correcting our own statements when we misspeak or when our words are taken out of context,” said Netanyahu.
“That is why I want to thank Minister Bezalel Smotrich for making clear that his choice of words regarding the vigilante attacks on Huwara following the murder of the Yaniv brothers was inappropriate and that he is strongly opposed to intentionally harming innocent civilians,” continued Netanyahu.
“While Minister Smotrich clarified his position, I am still waiting to hear a condemnation from the Palestinian Authority for the murder of the Yaniv brothers. And Israel is waiting for the international community to insist that the PA condemn that attack,” he added.
“Not only has it not done so, it continues to turn a blind eye to the PA’s rampant incitement, to the disgusting spectacle of Palestinians handing out sweets to celebrate terror attacks against Jews and to the official PA pay-to-slay policy, in which the PA pays terrorists to murder Jews.”
“The international community’s silence in the face of Palestinian support for terrorism must finally come to an end,” concluded Netanyahu.
Netanyahu’s Hebrew tweet also indirectly mentioned US Ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, who, according to a Channel 12 News report on Friday, said of Smotrich, "He has a flight to Washington, and if I could, I would throw him off the plane."
"None of us are without mistakes, including foreign diplomats," Netanyahu wrote in the Hebrew version of the tweet.
Speaking on Channel 12 earlier on Saturday night, Smotrich discussed the statement which he made following the shooting attack in which Hallel and Yagel Yaniv were murdered.
"It wasn't the correct word, I misspoke," he clarified, but explained, "We need to be clear in our fight against terror."
He again stressed that "the statement was made in the heat of emotions. I'm embarrassed that I have to clarify and that there are those who think that I support harming innocent civilians."
Later on Saturday night, Smotrich also responded to Nides and said, "I'm not angry at US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, and I'm convinced that he did not intend to incite to kill me when he said that they need to throw me off the plane," Smotrich stated, adding, "Just like I didn't mean to harm innocent civilians when I said that we need to wipe out Huwara."
"People sometimes use harsh terms which they don't mean literally to give a strong message. It happens to everyone," continued Smotrich.
The US Embassy in Israel would initially not comment on the Channel 12 report but later denied Nides had made these comments.