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Netanyahu and Bennett come to blows at cabinet meeting on settlement-related law

Le ministre israélien de l'Education Naftali Bennett (g) et le Premier ministre Benjamin Netanyahu à Jerusalem, le 30 août 2016
ABIR SULTAN (POOL/AFP/Archives)
The bill has been stalled due to another feud involving the same parties but different parliament members

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Education Naftali Bennett of the religious Habayit Hayehudi ("Jewish Home") party came to blows on Sunday at the weekly cabinet meeting over a bill that would legitimize under Israeli law an academic college in the West Bank settlement of Ariel. 

Apparently the two statesmen yelled and pointed fingers at one another, as Netanyahu derisively suggested that he quit after becoming disgruntled over Bennett's efforts to push the bill through hastily.  

"Why are you acting like this? It breaks coalition discipline," Netanyahu rebuked. 

Taking offense, Bennett in vain tried to placate the prime minister, casting his party's modus operandi as among the most "disciplined" in the coalition.

“This is not how things work, this is unacceptable,” Netanyahu piercingly replied. “If you want to quit, then just quit.”

JACK GUEZ (AFP/Archives)

The bill has been stalled due to another feud (involving the same parties) between Chairman of the Knesset House Committee Yoav Kish, Netanyahu's fellow Likud member, and Shuli Refaeli of Habayit Hayehudi, who proposed the law. The parliamentary committee handles procedural issues and officials' criminal immunity. 

The chasm between the parties stems from other controversial bills, including one that would lower the age of children (from the current six years old) who are automatically placed in the custody of their mothers in divorce cases.

Bennett quipped back that it was too bad Netanyahu's government did not act with the same determination on the Ariel University bill as it has concerning the infamous "police recommendations law" and so-called "French law", which became the subject of anti-corruption protests occurring every Saturday evening in Tel Aviv over the past month

To Bennett's chagrin, Netanyahu has not responded to requests to accelerate the bill that would apply to  academic institutions generally in the settlement area and would reportedly allow Ariel University to establish a medical school. 

This is not the first time Netanyahu and Bennett have clashed over policy issues, some suggesting that their rift is more personal than anything. 

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