Photo: Knesset website
Netanyahu. 'Honor High Court, practice restraint'
Photo: Knesset website
Livni. 'Real fear and concern'
Photo: Knesset website
Itzik. 'Someone trying to play for time'
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Netanyahu: State's legitimacy attacked
Prime minister attends special Knesset session initiated by opposition, says radical Islam cooperating with radical Left against Israel's existence. MK Itzik urges him to form unity government with Kadima
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday attended a Knesset session initiated by the opposition under the banner, "The Netanyahu government's failed conduct and the collapse in Israel's status in the world."


Netanyahu listed a series of operations undertaken by his government, and ruled, "I think we should take a long-range approach regarding the de-legitimization of the State. We are under repeated attacks on the State's legitimacy."


The prime minister explained, "We know this is about the State's existence because certain elements, not just the flotilla organizers, are saying: 'Go back to Poland and Morocco.' It comes out in moments of anger. What they are basically telling us is 'dismantle the Zionist enterprise.'


According to Netanyahu, "An unsacred coalition is being formed, particularly in the past decade with the rise of radical Islam and the strange cooperation with the radical Left, especially in Europe. This cooperation focuses on one thing only: The continued existence of the State of Israel.


"I think the attacks on us are only the first stage," he added. "I think they hate the free pluralistic society. But at the moment, the focus of that society, which they hate so much, is the State of Israel. And this is why we are witnessing an accumulating wave. It begins in Europe, emerging from political correctness, using significant parts of the media – and slowly spreads and conquers governments as well."


Netanyahu listed a series of examples of the de-legitimization of the State of Israel from the past decade, starting with the Durban conference in 2001, through the International Court of Justice's discussion of the separation fence and the attempt to arrest Major-General Doron Almog in London, to the Goldstone Report against the Israeli operation in Gaza.


At this point he was interrupted by Knesset Member Talab El-Sana (United Arab List-Ta'al), who shouted, "The entire world is against Israel, England is against Israel. Perhaps there is a problem with Israel."

Netanyahu at Knesset, after another sleepless night? (Photo: Gil Yohanan)


"I know there is a tendency to say that this entire problem is the result of the lack of peace process in the past year, and we are interested in it more than anyone else in this building. But don't delude yourselves that a peace process will solve this long and dangerous trend, which we have been facing for at least one decade."


Nonetheless, he listed the diplomatic moves taken by his government, including the proximity talks with the Palestinians and the ease of restrictions on the West Bank, and called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to advance the peace process and launch direct talks with Israel. "Where is this peace process?" Kadima lawmakers shouted during his address.


He concluded his address with an explanation of the new Gaza policy: "On the one hand, bringing in civilian goods, and on the other hand maintaining the security siege on Hamas."


On the backdrop of the Emmanuel crisis, the prime minister said, "We need efforts to unit the people, not to split the people. One of the foundations uniting the people is honoring court ruling. You don't have to agree with them, but you have to obey. We must honor the High Court ruling and practice mutual restraint. We have turned to our friends in the haredi public to practice restraint, but at the same time we must honor the haredi public. We will search for a solution to the problem, but as part of the law and not outside the law."


Livni: Gov't accusations have weakened Israel

Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni took the stage after Netanyahu. She explained that the 40 Knesset members who asked for the special session "expressed real fear and concern over what is happening."

She addressed the prime minister's remarks and said that "the only message you have is that the world is out to destroy us and there is nothing we can do about it till the danger is past."


She urged him to "stop frightening the public", clarifying that "if one thing has been proven this year it's that the talks about being strong and that the entire world is against us have not made Israel stronger, but weaker."


Livni harshly criticized Netanyahu for avoiding diplomatic moves. "Life didn’t start and end with the Bar-Ilan speech. When you say, 'I want a peace process,' we still remember you standing on this stage and saying that you don't want a peace process.


"Throughout the years we have listened to you talk about economic peace, which is not political peace, saying that there is no need to make decisions. They look at you, at your government, at the coalition – and after all that you have said, you have to prove more," she said. The opposition leader's address was interrupted by coalition members several times.


At the end of the discussion, 41 of the Knesset members voted in favor of the prime minister's statement and 22 voted against it.


'Is this a strong leader?'

Speaking before the prime minister, Kadima faction chairwoman Dalia Itzik said that her party was interested in forming a national unity government.


"In the past few days we have been hearing about the unity government spin. I have a feeling that someone, not you, is trying to play for time through this spin, to fool ministers in their party. I am telling you on behalf of nearly the entire Kadima faction, we want a unity government. A new unity government."


According to Itzik, this would be a government "which will move the State forward with new basic guidelines, with peace negotiations from the point the talks left off during the previous government's term.


"You want a government which will represent the majority of this people? Change the coalitional structure. I am sure you don't sleep at night, and if you do sleep at night you have a problem," she told the prime minister.


At this point Netanyahu replied, "Dalia, I sleep but just a little. I sleep well, but a little."


"The country is in danger, the country is in trouble," Itzik continued. "Don't rely on the guys in the Labor Party. I am telling you this with all my heart: Your government will dissolve much faster than you think. A year and a half ago we didn't need to engage in PR this much because we had a policy.


"I remember your slogan, 'A strong leader for a strong people,'" she added. "You must admit that this is a big joke. You lifted the siege on Gaza, you have frozen the construction in Jerusalem and the settlement blocs, you released dangerous terrorists who were on the flotilla, and for the first time foreign observers are included in a commission of inquiry. This is very dangerous. Tell me, is this really a strong leader?"


MK Ofir Akonis (Likud) responded to Itzik's address. "You should know the truth: (Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi) Livni turned down a national unity government twice in two years," he said.


He referred to Livni as a "Knesset seat thief", saying "you promised to be a responsible opposition, but how much hypocrisy and how many lies can you tell the public? Kadima has broken a record in political filthiness."


Meretz Chairman Chaim Oron said during the discussion that the State was in a difficult crisis. "I would like to tell you, Mr. Prime Minister, we are reaching a serious crisis – and it is breaking out during your shift. Look at these three issues: The High Court decision on yeshiva students, the Emmanuel affair and the Torah study or profession question. This price is being paid by a majority of the public – the lack of core studies, the draft dodging, and the prohibition to work.


"Mr. Prime Minister," MK Oron added, "When you go to (US President Barack) Obama, what exactly will you tell him? That we want negotiations without preconditions? These are texts from 15 years ago."


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