Prime minister, again: "I stand before not with a glee of victory, but with an overwhelming sense of responsibility; these are not normal times. I ask for your faith during this time of unprecedented crises," incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset during the induction ceremony of his new government Tuesday afternoon.
"The greatest danger to the State of Israel and to all of mankind will come from a radical regime that will try to arm itself with nuclear weapons," he said, adding "Israel is facing two immense challenges on the economic and security fronts. Our decisions and actions will determine whether we are able to weather the storms."
In his speech, Netanyahu spoke of the virtues of unity. "I believe we can overcome any obstacle, and therefore it is my goal to unite all of the major (political) forces in the country. I am glad that the Labor Party has made the decision to join hands with Likud."
Speaking of the global financial crisis, the newly inducted prime minister equated Israel with "a small race boat sailing between big ships."
Musical chairs. Olmert and Netanyahu at the ceremony (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Netanyahu then called on the Palestinian Authority to embrace peace: "If it is really peace that you seek – we can achieve it. We will advance (the negotiations) in three avenues, the financial one, the security one and the diplomatic one… we will support a Palestinian mechanism which will fight terror. We have no desire to rule over another people. The final (peace) agreement will enable the Palestinians to rule over themselves, with the exception of what may threaten Israel.
"Past efforts to find shortcuts have only produced the opposite results – more terror and more bloodshed. We will pursue a realistic route with the honest purpose of ending the conflict."
His government, said the incoming PM, will also be tough on crime: "It is inconceivable that parents in Israel will be afraid to send their children to school or to the beach… We will put an end to it. We will exacerbate punitive action, push for reforms in the police and bolster its ability to fight crime."
Just before ending his speech, which was riddled with repeated interjections by members of the opposition, Netanyahu thanked outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, saying simply "Thank you, Ehud."