Benjamin Netanyahu
Photo: Yaron Brener

Netanyahu says was in on Syrian mission plans

In first comment by Israeli official following reports on IDF overflight in Syria, opposition leader claims he was informed about operation 'from the start'. Netanyahu praises Prime Minister Olmert for Syria mission but slams him over willingness to negotiate on Jerusalem. 'The Western Wall isn't real estate; the Temple Mount is in our hands only as long as the IDF is there', he tells Ynet

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that he had been informed about the reported IDF operation in Syria "from the start" and praised Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for carrying out the mission. He was the first Israeli official to break the silence and admit that the overflight in Syria did take place.


Netahyahu's office said in response that he was not referring to a specific operation and that he did not reveal any details.


In an interview with Channel 1 news Wednesday, Netanyahu personally congratulated Olmert on the operation: "When a prime minister does things that I believe are important and necessary, I give my full support," he said. "I was in on it from the first moment, and I gave my support – but it's too soon to discuss the matter."


Later however, in a conversation with Ynet, Netanyahu chose to criticize the Olmert administration and its stance on Jerusalem and willingness to make concessions.


"Jerusalem isn't just any city. The Western Wall isn't real estate and the Temple Mount isn't any piece of land. These concepts are at the root of our identity and national existence. The unbearable lightness with which a government – that has no mandate or support from the Jewish people – surrenders Zion shows the deterioration of the values of Israeli society," he said.


Wednesday night Netanyahu met with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for over an hour regarding the upcoming Mideast peace summit in Washington.


'Dangerous to Israel'

Netanyahu also ruled out joining a government led by Olmert, which he called "dangerous to Israel."


"I think Olmert's policies regarding Jerusalem are very dangerous. Unfortunately, they haven't learned their lesson. Today we understand that we have no partner. What they're doing doesn't advance peace – it advances terrorism, it brings the missiles closer to the heart of the country. It threatens the things most holy to the Jewish people.


"Who are they depending on – the UN? – to protect our holy places and freedom of religion for three faiths? The Temple Mount is in our hands only as long as the IDF is there," he said.


As for Israel's designation of Gaza and Hamas as "hostile entities," Netanyahu said the decision to do so came too late, and endangers Israel. He said he doesn't trust Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas either, but trusts only the IDF.


"We'll end up with Hamas in the heart of Jerusalem," he said. "The fact that the IDF is there is the only reason the West Bank haven't become Hamastan."


פרסום ראשון: 09.19.07, 23:21
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