Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Retracts Comments on Refusal to Evacuate Settlements

Naftali Bennet, the leader of the right-wing party, said in a TV interview that conscientious objection is a built-in part of being a soldier - and then takes it back.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Habayit Hayehudi chairman Naftali Bennett, a major in the IDF reserves, said Thursday that he would refuse to evacuate settlements or outposts if he were so ordered while doing his army reserve duty.

"If I receive an order to evict a Jew from his house and expel him, personally, my conscience wouldn't allow it," he said in an interview with Channel 2 television's "Mishal Cham" program. "I'd ask my commander to exempt me. But I wouldn't publicly call for disobeying orders."

"An order over which a black flag flies shouldn't be obeyed," he continued.
"Expelling people from this land is a terrible thing. I will work with all my soul and all my might not to let this happen."

Noting that he had been a soldier, first in the regular army and then the reserves, for 22 years, he added, "Conscientious objection is a built-in part of being a soldier."

Asked what members of his Knesset faction most of whom are religious would do if a government decision contradicted rabbinical rulings, he replied,

"We'll bow to the authority of the politicians. We'll make the decisions on the political battlefield. We'll consult the rabbis, but we'll make the decisions on the political field."

Bennet took back his remarks, after several Knesset members condemned his statement, among them former Chief of Staff MK Moshe Boogie Ya'alon, Labor MK Eitan Cabel, and a Kadima party spokesperson.

MK Ya'alon said, "as a former chief of staff, I am appalled by Bennet's statement that he would refuse an order. The State of Israel's existence is dependent on the IDF and the IDF's existence is dependent on following orders."

Bennett then issued a statement rescinding his remarks: "As someone who led fighters into operations many times, I am opposed with all my heart and soul to refusing an order. I fulfilled all the orders I received in my 22 years in the IDF and will continue to do so."

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