Netanyahu Calls Far-right Leader's Campaign for Israel to Follow Biblical Law 'Utter BS'

National Union party leader Bezalel Smotrich retorts that the premier is disrespecting 'every believing Jew'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich.
Ilan Assayag, Olivier Fitoussi

Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich, the chairman of the National Union party, traded barbs with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday after the premier dismissed his call for Israel to follow biblical law as "nothing but B.S." 

"Bibi did not only disrespect me and my words, he disrespected everyone who is a believing Jew,” Smotrich said in a rebuttal to Netanyahu,  using his nickname. On Monday, Smotrich said that he wants “Israel to follow Torah law, we just can't because there are people who think differently and we need to get along with them."

Netanyahu called Smotrich’s desire for Israel to be a state ruled according to Jewish law “pure and utter nonsense" while speaking to a delegation of 41 Democratic U.S. congressmen visiting Israel.

>> Read more: Smotrich isn’t only a homophobe | Opinion ■ Why Israel will never be governed by Jewish religious law | Opinion 

In addition to rejecting Smotrich’s comments, Netanyahu told the American representatives he was proud of a new bill proposed by his recently appointed Justice Minister Amir Ohana to end the discrimination faced by same-sex couples wishing to adopt children.

In a Facebook post responding to Netanyahu's comments, Smotrich wrote: “Then the prime minister, in smooth and polished English just the way he likes it, attacked me and said that things I had said, which reflect in my views the yearning of every religious Jew, were ‘complete and utter nonsense.’”

Smotrich said he forgave the prime minister, “but it is important to know that Bibi did not just show disrespect for me and what I said, Bibi disrespects everyone who is a believing Jew.”

Smotrich further added that Netanyahu was acting only out of electoral considerations and that within a few days he would once again be chasing after religious voters and promise them everything. “So, with God’s help, religious Zionism and the true and moral right will give their votes and faith to those who believe in the truth, and not to someone who fakes belief only before the elections,” he wrote.

Smotrich also told a conference of rabbis in Jerusalem that he believed “the people of Israel would repent and the day will come when they all will want to observe the Torah and the commandments.” Smotrich said he is acting to prevent desecration of the Sabbath caused by weekend work under the responsibility of his ministry.