Five reserve commandos whose names appeared on a petition supporting Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett said Monday that they were added to the list without their permission.
“I never signed a petition for Naftali Bennett,” said Major (res.) Aviv Katzir, whose name appears on the list. “I knew him briefly, when we served in the same unit, but I didn’t sign a petition either for him or against him.”
The letter, along with 54 signatures, was published by reservists as a show of solidarity with Bennett, himself a former member of the IDF’s most elite commando unit Sayeret Matkal, after he suffered a scathing political backlash for saying during a television interview last Thursday that he would refuse orders to evacuate settlements if required to do so during his IDF reserve service, and would go to jail if necessary.
Bennett later clarified that he was discussing his own objections to following such an order and that he was not recommending insubordination among the soldiery over political issues.
“Just like he was always there for us, we will stand by him now that he is facing false attacks,” read the letter issued Monday.
Bennett’s Jewish Home party is polling at 11-13 seats in latest surveys ahead of the January 22 elections, drawing votes away from the merged Likud-Beytenu alliance, which is polling at about 36 seats.
Among those who criticized Bennett was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said that he would not allow anyone who promotes insubordination to be part of his cabinet.
“Once again Bennett has shown himself to be an old school politician, who instead of retracting his comments on insubordination and offering an apology, prefers to find ways of whitewashing his support of disobedience,” the Likud said about the errant signatures, suggesting the candidate was willing to resort to trickery.
“There were some technical mistakes. I’m not sure how the names were added, but the petition will be corrected immediately,” said one of the petition organizers, adding that some signatures that should have been on the letter were absent.