Bennett releases thinly veiled tweet defending settlers, reportedly phones Internal Security Minister to discuss remarks about settler violence.
By World Israel News Staff
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett appeared to denounce remarks about settler violence made by Internal Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev on Tuesday, writing in a thinly veiled tweet that settlers should be supported, not blamed for the actions of a few bad actors.
“Settlers in Judea and Samaria have suffered violence and terror, daily, for decades,” Bennett wrote on his Twitter account Tuesday evening. “They are the defensive bulwark for all of us, and we must strengthen and support them, in words and actions.”
Without singling out Bar-Lev, Bennett wrote that blanket statements about settlers were harmful and that stereotyping them as violent was false.
“There are marginal elements in every community, and they should be dealt with using all means, but we must not generalize about an entire community,” Bennett said.
Kan 11 News reported that Bennett, who is currently in quarantine after a passenger on his return flight from the United Arab Emirates tested positive for the coronavirus, phoned Bar-Lev to discuss the comments.
According to Hebrew language media, the tone of the conversation was friendly and ended with “mutual understanding.”
Bar-Lev’s tweet that he had discussed settler violence with Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland triggered angry responses from right-wing politicians, including his coalition partners Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked and Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana, both of the Yamina party.
“You’re confused,” Shaked wrote to Bar-Lev on Twitter.
“What should shock us are the daily incidents in which stones and Molotov cocktails are thrown at Jews — just because they are Jews — with the support of the Palestinian Authority.”
But Bar-Lev doubled down on his comments, saying that those offended by his remarks needed to calm down “and drink a glass of water.”
Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai backed Bar-Lev, telling radio station Reshet Bet that settler violence is a real issue.
“There is settler violence, it cannot be ignored. It must be addressed, it does not cover the entire country,” Shai said.
“ I do not compare it to Palestinian terrorism. But there are difficult incidents, not one and not two, which need to be uprooted.”
Right-wing Israeli lawmakers and watchdog groups have long held that reports of settler violence against Palestinians are over exaggerated, and that the media and international bodies like the U.N. disproportionately focus on violence perpetrated by Jews while ignoring and excusing attacks committed by Arabs.