After nearly two weeks of claiming to be the target of a Likud spin campaign, Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett on Sunday recanted his previous statements to the effect that he would prefer to be in prison rather than carry out military orders to evacuate settlements.
Speaking at an election panel on Sunday at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Bennett said that now that he is a public figure he has to withhold expressing his personal opinions. “Every fighter in the IDF that is given an order that is not clearly illegal, that was approved by the Israeli government, be it God forbid, the evacuation of an Arab village or Jewish community — has to carry that order out, and this includes Naftali Bennett as well,” he said.
Bennett expressed regret for his earlier statements. "I did not have the right to say what I did, and I have changed my outlook. I am a major in the reserves and the harmful impact my words had on all the youth that see me as a role model upsets me. I came to the conclusion that I don't have the right to voice my personal opinion in light of the repercussions," he said.
Bennett surprised some in the audience when he said that he would not oppose being part of a Center-Left government, calling Labor Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich "a woman of truth," despite "making many mistakes."
Speaking on the topic of a Palestinian state, Bennett reiterated his opposition. "If we do what we did in the Gaza Strip, where we handed over 100% of the land to the Palestinians and a few days later rockets starting flying out of there, and haven't stopped to this day, then it will happen again. I think we should never allow a Palestinian state to be formed inside Israel."
Meanwhile, No. 4 on Habayit Hayehudi's list, Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, sparked controversy and brought condemnation from center and leftist parties for his comments on same-sex marriage.
In an interview with the Israeli media outlet Walla, Ben-Dahan said that "if we legitimize a [marriage] unit that creates a reality without a future, in which a person only seeks to fulfill momentary desires — it will spell the destruction of a people."
The Walla interview cited Ben-Dahan as saying that if everyone in Israel were in same-sex marriages, the Jewish people would perish.
Habayit Hayehudi released a statement following Dahan's interview. "Our stance is that the character of Israel does not go hand-in-hand with formal recognition of same-sex marriages. A solution to the discord and gaps in Israeli society will only come out of dialogue: a live and let live attitude."
The party said in its statement that they would not take part in "hateful dialogue between one Israeli group and another."