In a holiday interview with Makor Rishon’s editor Hagai Segal, Religious Zionism Chairman Bezalel Smotrich referred to the possibility of forming a new right-wing government led by Netanyahu, and his deep rift with his former allies from the Yamina party, most notably Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
“I make a very clear distinction between government and party,” Smotrich explained. “I will not sit with them in the same party, because I can’t trust people whose word has no value, who said one thing and then the opposite in less than a month and with the same determination. Ayelet [Shaked] too, I have no faith in her.” However, he added, “To sit in the same government – yes. I sit in government with a lot of people I disagree with. A coalition is not a wedding.”
Smotrich believes “there’s no reason in the world to go to elections, just as there was no reason to form this government. I expect that the right-wingers will put aside rivalries and deep-seated resentments, anger, and reckoning, for the benefit of the people of Israel. I also know what needs to be done for this to happen.”
“By the way,” he noted, “It’s not unreasonable in my view that another unity government would be formed in the end. I won’t be affected by this on a personal political level, because I am in a kind of win-win: if Netanyahu forms a full-fledged right-wing government, I will play a key role in it. If he does not form a full-fledged right-wing government, and if he’s stupid enough to leave me out, I’ll come back with five more seats. I’d take away the Haredim from him.”
“I say hello to everyone except the people in Yamina,” Smotrich returned to his favorite target. “It’s very difficult for me. I’m not like that in my character. Would you say hello to someone who hurt your sister? I feel that they have harmed the Holy One, the process of redemption, the State of Israel.”
That’s pretty heavy and assigns to Naftali Bennett et al mythical, dark powers – all of which explains the vehemence of MKs on the right and their rowdy supporters’ zealous public shaming of their former political partners. They feel it on a gut level, like the brothers of Jacob’s daughter Dina who executed thousands of Canaanite residents of Shechem after the mayor’s son had raped their sister. It’s not the kind of stuff that goes away.
Smotrich revealed that he hates the Yamina folks worse than he does the anti-Zionist Arab politicians. When Segal asked him if he greets MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint Arab List) if they happen to take the same elevator together, Smotrich responded: No, because he supports terrorism. We also try not to get into the same elevator together. But, making myriad differences (l’havdil elef alfei havdalot), there are those to whom I don’t say hello because they’re the enemy and those to whom I don’t say hello because I can’t forgive them for selling out the country to its enemies to resolve an internal dispute within the Jewish nation.”