The world community should put pressure on Iran at least equal to the pressure
that it is currently applying to Libya, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told
MKs during an address to the Knesset on Tuesday evening.
forced to address the plenum by a petition signed by 40 opposition MKs,
Netanyahu delivered a lengthy address that focused on Israel’s position in the
international arena, with particular emphasis on unrest in the Arab world and on
Israel’s relations with the Palestinian Authority.
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“Israel is the only
state in this area that is immune to these shocks, because, in spite of all of
the criticism, Israel is the only democratic state in which Arab MKs can take
the podium, to criticize, to slam, and to condemn,” Netanyahu
“There is not a single Arab state in which Arabs have the rights,
the equality of rights, and the freedom to express themselves democratically as
they do in Israel. It is this very freedom that people in Arab countries are
Netanyahu warned that if Iran is allowed to complete its
nuclear program, “the hopes that the world holds for an ‘Arab spring’ will be
destroyed,” because Iran has already proven its willingness to intervene in
political unrest in Egypt and, in the past, in Lebanon.
“I would expect
that the world put similar pressure on Iran. Iran is at least equal to Libya,
and I believe that its importance is even greater,” said Netanyahu, adding that
Iran hopes to “return the region to the ninth century.”
he complained “have made great efforts to stop peace and progress in our
The prime minister also clarified his position on building in the
West Bank, after he announced last week that he planned to approve 400 new units
following this month’s deadly terror attack in the Samarian settlement of
“I didn’t mean that building is part of the punishment. We will
find the people who did this, and we will hold them accountable.
building is one of the ways that Zionism has found over the years to answer
these terrible acts of murder,” he said. “It is an appropriate response, a
response that has continued since the dawn of Zionism.”
complaints made following the terror attack that the Palestinian Authority on
one hand condemned the attack when talking to Israel, but at the same time
continued with incitement against Israel.
“The Palestinian Authority’s
response was at first stammering, then reserved, and then [Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas] called and said that the act was a terrible act, and I
told him that you don’t need to say it to me, but rather to the media – not our
media – but to your media, which is controlled by the government,” Netanyahu
recounted, and then added that the Palestinian Authority continued to name
squares and events after terrorists who killed Israelis.
“How can you
talk to us about peace when the State of Israel doesn’t exist in your textbooks?
How can you talk about peace to us while you speak about making peace with
Hamas? You can make peace with Hamas or make peace with Israel, but you can’t do
both. I say to our Palestinian counterparts, choose peace. If you want to choose
peace,” he added.
“Why don’t you come to do the most basic thing? Abbas
is in Ramallah 10 minutes away from here, and flies across the world, but he
won’t come here,” Netanyahu complained.
He concluded his speech attacking
Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni and Kadima, who routinely cite their near-success
at achieving a peace agreement during the last government. Netanyahu said that
he knew that the Olmert government was “not near” an agreement, because the
Palestinians had refused to recognized Israel as the Jewish state or to accept
“You are blurring reality, and the time has come that
you tell the truth – if not to the nation, then at least to yourselves,” he
Livni launched an impassioned response, during which she
accused Netanyahu of “failing to prepare Israel for peace.”
“If the prime
minister has a vision beyond a supertanker that you find at the last minute on
Google, why don’t you present it here in the Knesset in Hebrew,” she asked,
responding to rumors that Netanyahu is likely to deliver a second key speech on
foreign policy in the coming months.
“It will probably not be in Hebrew,
but in English. It will be about performance, about a continuation of words in
which you try to find common ground among [Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman
and [Minister-without- Portfolio Bennie] Begin and [Interior Minister] Eli
Yishai and [US President Barack] Obama and [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel and
[former British prime minister Gordon] Brown.”
“The community that will
watch knows that it is a play, that it is spoken by a prime minister who said
before the elections that words are reversible,” she warned, while coalition MKs
chided her for not correctly naming the current British prime minister, David