Tzipi Livni, head of Hatnua (The Movement), criticized hardline Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett Saturday, saying he was responsible for clashes between settlers and the IDF Friday at an unauthorized outpost in the West Bank.
On Friday, some 200 settler youth threw stones at security forces who had come to evacuate them from the Oz Zion outpost, comprising makeshift structures and tents, near Beit El. Five border police officers were lightly injured during the scuffle and two activists were arrested.
“Bennett and his extremist rabbis led them [the settlers] to that hill to deliberately create friction with IDF soldiers and create a situation of disobedience,” said Livni at a Shabbat culture series event.
She named Rabbi Dov Lior, an extremist settler rabbi and reported spiritual leader of the Jewish Home party, as having ostensibly flouted an agreement with the IDF for the voluntary evacuation of the outpost, and said Lior had instead deliberately engineered a Sabbath eve confrontation.
“They led them there knowing our children — IDF soldiers — would have to evacuate them. [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, who continues to wink at the extreme right, his natural allies, stopped the eviction — because for him, and for his extremist coalition partners, everything can be destroyed, just not Shabbat.”
She concluded by stating that such actions were a dangerous precedent. “They are deliberately creating these types of collisions to encourage soldiers to disobey the IDF’s orders — and that is a very grave matter.”
The IDF said it had postponed the evacuation of Oz Zion out of respect for Shabbat. It later stated it would clear the premises Saturday evening, after Shabbat. Lior, who led the hilltop gathering, is one of the “founding fathers” and “spiritual leaders” of the Jewish Home party, Channel 2 reported.
Last week, Bennett came under fire for claiming during a TV interview that if he were an IDF soldier who was ordered to remove settlers from their homes, he would opt for the path of conscientious objection. His comments, which were viewed as scandalous calls for insubordination within the army, sparked virulent criticism from both sides of the political aisle.
Kadima head Shaul Mofaz, speaking on a tour in the north with Druze security leaders Saturday, also blasted hardline extremists for creating a dangerous situation in Oz Zion.
“The extremism that is controlling the right-wing candidates’ discourse increases the motivation to use violence against the IDF,” he said.
Whoever raises their hands against the IDF and security forces are raising their arms at Israel and are liable for imprisonment,” Mofaz added. “Such cases should be treated seriously and not just let go.”
After Friday’s incident, the Labor party issued a statement blaming Netanyahu for the clashes. “Such violent incidents are a direct result of Netanyahu’s policy of ‘winking’ at outposts and settlers.” The party called on the premier to “ensure that the laws of the State of Israel are upheld beyond the Green Line.”