Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Thursday evening compared West Bank settlers to left-wing protesters, saying "The law is the law, and harming IDF soldiers
is very severe, whether it takes place in Bilin or at the Ephraim Brigade. It doesn’t matter if the (assailants) are Jews or Arabs –we will arrest them and prosecute them."
Palestinians and left-wing activists frequently demonstrate in the Palestinian village of Bilin
against the construction of the West Bank security fence. The Ephraim Brigade base in the West Bank was the site of settler riots
which took place Monday night.
"We will maintain law and order everywhere. IDF soldiers are the ones who fight Hamas and Hezbollah. We will not allow anyone to raise a hand against IDF soldiers. Those who dare to do so will pay a heavy price. I assure you of this," Netanyahu told Likud
Central Committee members who gathered in Tel Aviv to approve the PM's decision to move up the party primaries
to January 31.
They also voted to accept hundreds of new members to the Central Committee.
Moshe Feiglin, who heads the hawkish faction within the ruling party, was the first to speak. "Can anyone recall a leftist government with a defense minister from Likud? Why do we have a defense minister (Ehud Barak)
who is detaching the Land of Israel from us? Is there no Likud member who can serve as defense minister and is loyal to the values of the nationalist camp? Those who believe do not fear the media or the High Court of Justice. It is time to be loyal to the Jewish majority. This should be a Jewish state," he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom is opposed to holding the Likud primaries next month when general elections are still two years away. Officials in Jerusalem
estimate that Netanyahu moved up the vote for Likud chairmanship to take advantage of his strong position within the party. Shalom said he would run against Netanyahu in the elections.