PM on Hebron riots: We'll protect Palestinians
Minister Yishai says following Hebron evacuation that defense minister 'acted in complete disregard of the law and threw people out of their home'. Barak in response: State's ability to enforce laws was put to the test. Olmert says won't allow settlers to won't allow anyone to 'undermine democracy and rule of law'
Harshly slamming Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Yishai said that "it's a shame that for rating purposes, the defense minister chose to halt the dialogue process, act in complete disregard of the law and throw people out of their home. Making political use of defense issues will not make the Labor Party more relevant and reinvent something that is outdated."
He added that he plans to arrive at the disputed home later Thursday. "The evacuation must be stopped, otherwise we won't be able to say that 'our hands did not spill this blood.'"
The Yesha Council accused Barak of deceiving the settlers.
"Defense Minister Ehud Barak acted in a deceitful manner today when he presented a false pretense as if he was working to prevent a violent evacuation, while he in fact gave his approval. A practical possibility for solving the issue without using violence was made possible, but Barak took a shameful one-sided move.
"It's regretful to see that the head of the defense establishment decided to abandon the road of responsibility and reasoning, and chose the road of aggression instead," the Council said in a statement.
Yisrael Beitienu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman also linked between the Labor primaries and the Hebron evacuation, saying "one cannot ignore the Labor Party primaries, but it's a shame that the defense minister fails to show the same firmness against the Qassams in Gaza, the Katyusha rockets in the north and the Palestinian terror from Judea and Samaria.
"I would also like to remind Barak that the house of the terrorist from Mercaz Harav yeshiva is still standing," he added.
Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu also addressed the evacuation during a press conference, and called on the sides clashing in Hebron to "stop fighting in the disputed house".
"The dispute must be solved peacefully and pleasantly. The law and court orders must be honored, and an iron fist must be used if needed," he added.
On the other side of the political spectrum, Knesset Member Avshalom Vilan (Meretz) welcomed the Hebron house evacuation, saying it was "better late than never".
"I hope the delay in the security forces' decision making will not result in many casualties. The disputed house must be evacuated swiftly with a minimal casulaties," he added.
Barak told reporters in Tel Aviv later in the evening that "the thing put to the test today was the State's ability to enforce its laws and authority.
"This is when the leadership is tested on its ability to practice judgment and think before acting. I acted as expected from a responsible leadership," he said.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, for his part, praised the security forces' "swift and efficient" evacuation of the house in Hebron and said that the government under his leadership "won't allow anyone to undermine democracy and the rule of law.
He also vowed that any attempt to harm the Palestinian population will be met with "an immediate and harsh response" by the security forces.
Amnon Meranda, Yael Branovsky Attila Somfalvi and Daniel Edelson contributed to this report