Naftali Bennett faces calls to fire ‘terrorist aide’
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Naftali Bennett faces calls to fire ‘terrorist aide’

Zionist Union MK urges education minister to dismiss assistant who served time for membership in Jewish Underground

Raoul Wootliff is the The Times of Israel's political correspondent.

Nathan Nathanson at an Internal Affairs Committee meeting at the Knesset on December 30, 2013. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Nathan Nathanson at an Internal Affairs Committee meeting at the Knesset on December 30, 2013. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

An opposition lawmaker has called out Education Minister Naftali Bennett for employing a former terrorist as his political adviser.

Zionist Union MK Yoel Hasson wrote in a statement Monday that Nathan Nathanson, a senior aide to the Jewish Home chair, is a convicted terrorist and called on Bennett to fire him. Nathanson, he wrote, “was a member of the Jewish Underground who tried to murder the then-mayor of Nablus with explosives and led to his severe injury and the amputation of his legs.”

Nathanson was convicted in 1985 for involvement in the Jewish Underground and taking part in three car bombings against Palestinian mayors in June 1980. He was sentenced to three years in prison.

Hasson noted that Nathanson has “a permanent entry permit to the Knesset as the political adviser of Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett. He’s the whisperer in his ear, a regular visitor to the corridors of the Knesset, and takes part each week in the meetings of the Jewish Home party.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, leads the weekly faction meeting at the Knesset, December 21, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, leads the weekly faction meeting at the Knesset, December 21, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The post came amid intense public debate over Jewish extremists allegedly suspected of having carried out a terror attack in the Palestinian village of Duma in the West Bank in July, in which firebombs were thrown into the Dawabsha family home, killing an 18-month-old boy and his parents.

Almost 100 alleged far-right Jewish extremists are currently either being questioned by the Shin Bet security service, are facing legal action, are in jail, or are under restriction orders, according to a list maintained by a group of their supporters on Facebook.

Bennett has attempted to draw a distinction between the ideology of the suspected perpetrators and that of the religious Zionist movement his Jewish Home party claims to represent, calling the former “terrorists” and condemning those who support them.

One of the suspects arrested in connection with the Dawabsha murder, December 3, 2015. Under a court-issued gag order, the identities of the suspects cannot be revealed. (Screen capture)
One of the suspects arrested in connection with the Dawabsha murder, December 3, 2015. Under a court-issued gag order, the identities of the suspects cannot be revealed. (Screen capture)

“The vision of the murderers in Duma is the opposite view from that of religious Zionism,” he told Army Radio last week.

The Jewish Underground was disbanded in 1986 after the Shin Bet intercepted an attempt by the group’s members to firebomb five Arab buses in East Jerusalem. Fifteen members of the group, which numbered 29 in all, were convicted and served prison terms for a range of serious offenses including the killing of Palestinian seminary students and plotting to blow up the Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to pave the way for the reconstruction of a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount.

Hasson, the Zionist Union lawmaker, said that allowing a member of the group free access to the Knesset effectively sanctions the actions of the Duma perpetrators.

“Let’s go, Naftali, show us your true intentions and throw out the terrorist you’ve placed at your side. Deal with the bad seeds in your garden without apologizing,” wrote Hasson. “Because if you don’t do it now, in another five years the terrorists from Duma will be sitting in the Knesset.”

Asked to comment on Hasson’s statements, a Jewish Home party official told The Times of Israel the Nathanson is not on the payroll of either the Jewish Home party or the Education Ministry, although he did not deny that he serves in an advisory role.

Adiv Sterman contributed to this report.

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