Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu disavowed comments by a leading candidate for justice minister who said earlier on Monday that he intends to work toward a system of Torah law.
PM Netanyahu dismissed the remarks of United Right MK Bezalel Smotrich, saying that “Israel will not become a Halachic state.”
The prime minister hoped thereby to blunt the attempt of Avigdor Liberman to make political capital of Smotrich’s statement that his Union of Right-Wing Parties “wants to restore the Torah justice system.”
Liberman, who has won increased support from his secular constituency by whipping up fears of a religion-based government, was quick to seize on the issue.
“Listen to what Smotrich, a candidate for the justice minister post, has been saying,” Liberman told party members at a Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting.
“These are no longer comments coming from a delusional hilltop youth, but a statement of intent,” he said. “We will prevent that, we won’t lend those efforts a hand. Jewish law is an important and critical part of the Israeli justice system, but Israeli law cannot be Torah law.”
Labor MK Shelly Yachimovich also blasted Smotrich, claiming that “his shocking words are a flashing light warning of the wave of conservatism washing over us from some parts of the right.
“The fact that Smotrich and his friends are not marginalized dreamers but people who hold influential positions is an enormous threat to human freedom and the enlightened age,” she added.