Education Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday said that only when Palestinians accept that they will never have a state in the West Bank will they be able to live side-by-side with Israelis.
Bennett, who leads the settlement-backing Jewish Home party, made the comments at the settlement of Tekoa, south of Jerusalem, where he was joined by fellow party members Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli for a tree-planting ceremony ahead of the Jewish agricultural festival of Tu Bishvat.
“Since the dawn of Zionism there’s been terror, and the answer was always settlement and attack,” Bennett said, according to a report on the Hebrew-language Srugim website. “The terrorists act in the hope of breaking us. Only when they understand that we are flourishing, only when they understand that there is no expectation of a Palestinian state here, will they be comfortable with our existence.”
The Jewish Home party officials’ visit to the settlement came in solidarity after last week’s incident in which resident Michal Froman was stabbed by a 15-year-old Palestinian, Othman Muhammad Sha’alan. The tree was planted outside the local school, near where the attack took place.
Froman, five months’ pregnant, was moderately injured and Sha’alan was shot in the leg and apprehended by security forces.
“The spirit of the Jewish people cannot be broken, and from within the great disaster we will continue to plant and to flourish, and to develop the settlement project in the beloved Land of Israel,” Shaked, the justice minister, said. “The Jewish people wants to live in its country in peace and with a feeling of security.
“Those who wish us harm want bloodshed and to uproot us from our homes; we saw proof of that last Sunday, in the loathsome attack in which Dafna Meir was murdered,” she continued, referring to the killing of Dafna Meir, 39, who was stabbed outside her home in the West Bank settlement of Otniel by 15-year Palestinian Morad Bader Abdullah Adais.
The deadly attack on Meir and the stabbing of Froman just a day later came amid a wave of Palestinian terror attacks in recent months.
At least 29 Israelis and some 150 Palestinians, most of them attackers, have been killed in the violence, which has included Palestinian stabbing, car-ramming and shooting attacks in Israel and the West Bank.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.