Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Israel will attack anyone who tries to
harm its citizens, speaking at the opening meeting of the Knesset winter session
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Amid heckling from opposition MKs, Netanyahu addressed recent
events and his expectations for the session ahead, as did President Shimon
Peres, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and opposition leader Tzipi
The prime minister used quotes from the Bible and the Talmud as
“principles that lead us: If one tries to kill you, you must kill him, and
whoever attacks us, may his blood be on his [own] head.”
“We plan to
spread more missile defense systems throughout the country, but security is not
just about defense,” Netanyahu explained. “It’s also the ability to
“We will continue to act with force and determination to deal
with the tens of thousands of missiles and rockets that our enemies have aimed
at our cities,” he said.
Netanyahu called for the use of “power and
responsibility” in defending Israel, but also in making peace with the
“The people of Israel want true peace based on the
recognition of the right for the Jewish people to have a nation-state in its
homeland,” he said.
“It’s been said that I am a tough negotiator,”
“I take this as a compliment.
I say to
[Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas]: I am not tough when it comes to peace,
but I am tough when it comes to the security of Israel and its citizens. That is
my basic responsibility as prime minister.”
The prime minister explained
that any future peace treaty must include clearly delineated security
However, “negotiations must start in order to succeed,” he
“I have asked the PA to talk time after time. I called for
peace talks at my speech in Bar-Ilan University. I called for talks in the
Knesset, in the US Congress, in the UN – dozens of times. I answered ‘yes’ to
the Quartet’s calls for negotiations.”
“I must say, unfortunately, that
the Palestinians continue to refuse to hold direct talks,” Netanyahu
“Instead of sitting around a table and negotiating with us,
they joined Hamas and took unilateral steps.
“We will not sit by quietly
while these things happen,” he continued. “We can only solve this conflict
through negotiations, but the Palestinians want a state without a peace
Netanyahu also addressed regional developments, including the
Iranian nuclear threat.
“Iran is continuing in its attempts to arm itself
with nuclear weapons,” he said. “A nuclear Iran will threaten the Middle East,
the world and Israel.”
The prime minister warned that the Arab Spring
brought instability and uncertainty to the Middle East, and that Islamic
extremism would grow in popularity.
“The liberal forces working for
freedom and progress as we understand them are weak and divided,” Netanyahu
said. “It is doubtful that the great hope that existed when the Arab Spring
broke out will be fulfilled.”
As for this summer’s social protests and
the world economic crisis, the prime minister commended the Treasury for
behaving responsibly over the past decade.
“Important, powerful states
did not pay attention to the dangers and found themselves on the edge of
bankruptcy,” Netanyahu said, calling for increased competition in the
“The government plans to bring a number of decisions to the
Knesset in order to act responsibly and help citizens,” said the prime
Labor leader MK Shelly Yacimovich interrupted Netanyahu’s
speech repeatedly, shouting, “You ruined Israel’s economy!” The prime minister
denied the charge.
“I do not accept the claim that the free market is
over and we must return to a centralized economy where the government controls
all industry,” the prime minister explained.
“We were there in the past,
and we will not go back.”
Finally, Netanyahu lauded Israel’s “unity and
mutual responsibility” in supporting the return of captive soldier Gilad Schalit
and US-Israeli citizen Ilan Grapel, and said he has “not forgotten Jonathan
Pollard for one minute,” as well as other Israeli captives.
that leads us to act for the good of one soldier shows the ability of our nation
to unite in trying times,” Netanyahu explained. “We have one state, and we must
protect it together.”
Livni offered a counterpoint to nearly all of the
topics Netanyahu addressed in his speech, focusing mostly on peace
“You’re flattered that you’re a tough negotiator? You’re not a
negotiator – there are no negotiations,” the opposition leader
“The Palestinian Authority is our natural partner for peace – it
may not be your partner, Mr. Prime Minister, but it is the natural partner of
the State of Israel,” she said.
“The state is only getting weaker and
more isolated,” said Livni.
“I don’t understand what your goal is in
insulting and pushing away Abbas,” she asked Netanyahu.
“Do you feel
stronger by pushing him out? Are you trying to get rid of our partner so you can
continue saying that there is none?” The Kadima leader expressed concern that
“Israel is isolating itself,” specifically mentioning the Foreign Ministry’s
threat to stop cooperating with UNESCO after “Palestine” was made a
“We have to remember that negotiations are preferable to
diplomatic battles, which are preferable to terror and violence,” she
Livni also accused the government of preferring to deal with Hamas
over the PA.
“Hamas decided that terror is the best option, but with
Hamas there is no chance of a peace treaty,” she explained.
the economy, Livni said that “swinish capitalism is over, because the middle
class is not getting the most basic things – education, the ability to buy a
“We must change our economic system, but we cannot throw out the
baby with the bathwater,” she explained.
“Socialism ruined personal
initiative, and we don’t want that. However, the invisible hand that Netanyahu
thinks guides the economy must disappear.
I am a liberal and I believe in
a free market, but liberalism is not one-dimensional.
not be cruel and the free market is not a jungle,” Livni said.
responsible participation of the state, we will fall into the abyss.”
the beginning of the festive opening meeting, Rivlin commended the Knesset for
moving to social topics, instead of focusing on peace talks and international
“The protests revealed the Knesset’s shortcomings,” he said.
“The demand for a new social agenda did not come from the Knesset, and I doubt
that the voices in the demonstrations have representation in the
Rivlin explained that each party in the Knesset will have to
present “a clear and consistent social agenda,” but added that “real change
The streets cannot replace the Knesset.”
the plenum that “social justice is for everyone – religious, secular, Jewish,
He specifically mentioned haredi employment and encouraging Arabs
to work in hi-tech as important initiatives.
“Justice will come in a
change in our national priorities.
We need to focus on education, housing
and other aspects,” Peres explained. “We need new places of work and higher