Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu lashed out at loquacious security cabinet members who have criticized him publicly in recent days, urging them at a Tel Aviv press conference on Wednesday to behave more responsibly.
Netanyahu recalled that when he was a security cabinet member under prime minister Ariel Sharon and even when he was opposition leader during prime minister Ehud Olmert’s tenure, he did not criticize them during IDF operations and security situations.
“My advice is to do what I did: Lend a hand and speak less,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister’s comments came on a day when his security cabinet ministers were very vocal in interviews, speeches, and comments on their personal Facebook pages.
In a post on his Facebook page, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said, “I hope that it is now clear to everyone that the policy of ‘Quiet will be met with quiet’ means that Hamas is the one that takes the initiative and the one that decides when, where and how many rockets it fires on Israeli civilians, while we make do with reacting. Even if our reaction is a strong one, it is still a reaction.
“Hamas controls the intensity of the flames when it is convenient for it, it interrupts the daily routine of Israeli civilians, particularly those living in the South,” the foreign minister wrote.
“It happened on [Tuesday], it’s happening today, and it is liable to happen on September 1 and also on the eve of Rosh Hashana.
“The proposals we have heard up until now, whereby there is no deal, no agreement and no unequivocal commitment by the Palestinians to halt their fire forever means that we are in for a war of attrition, which is something that the State of Israel cannot be dragged into,” he wrote.
Liberman slammed unilateral proposals suggested by “certain politicians suffering from memory lapse,” and said he wanted to “remind everyone about a unilateral measure known as ‘disengagement,’ that was already carried out in Gaza, and which we are paying for until today.
“Even if, Heaven forbid, [Meretz chairwoman] Zehava Gal-On was prime minister and [Hadash MK] Dov Henin was defense minister, they, too, would ultimately order a wide-scale military operation to topple the Hamas regime,” Liberman wrote. “So when people speak seriously about the security of the citizens of Israel, one needs to understand that there is no other viable alternative except for a determined Israeli campaign that leads to one thing – bringing Hamas to submission.”
Gal-On’s office issued a press release in response to Liberman’s post, calling the foreign minister’s claims “infantile.”
“Liberman is trying to sell us the delusion of liquidating Hamas for years now,” the Meretz leader said. “If the residents of the South are still vulnerable to rocket fire and shelling after a month of destruction and killing in the Gaza Strip, then apparently this operation didn’t change anything, and no military operation will change it.
“Whoever calls for a more massive response and more assassinations in order to create deterrence and achieve a victory apparently has not learned the bloody lessons of the last month, during which 64 soldiers were killed on the Israeli side and 2,000 Palestinians were killed.”
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni also took public issue with Netanyahu’s policies, saying in a Ynet interview that the attempt to reach an arrangement with Hamas was “not right,” and that she was not willing to “pay Hamas,” or “establish Hamastan on our southern border that will send a message to Islamic State, and Hezbollah, and all the other crazy groups in the region that we will pay a price for quiet.”
Rather than come to an agreement with Hamas in Cairo talks, Livni is in favor of Israeli working with the US, EU, UN and Palestinian Authority to create a different reality inside the Gaza Strip that would include demilitarization, massive humanitarian aid and eventually transferring control of Gaza to the PA.
On his Facebook page, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett wrote against the formation of a Palestinian state, which Netanyahu supports if it is demilitarized.
“The world still asks if the terror we face in Gaza would not be solved by the establishment of a Palestinian state,” Bennett wrote. “It’s time to be honest. The beheading of innocent civilians by ISIS in Iraq and Syria has nothing to do with a Palestinian state.
Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear bomb has nothing to do with a Palestinian state. Hamas, which fired over 3,000 rockets at Israel, has nothing to do with a Palestinian state.”
The free world would only understand this when terrorism strikes again and “radical Islamic terrorists open the gates of hell in London, Paris and New York,” Bennett wrote.
He called on the world to stop the wave of terrorism by backing Israel’s efforts against Hamas.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid warned Hamas leaders in a speech at the Platform 17 memorial at the Berlin- Grunewald railway station, whence some 50,000 Jews were sent to their deaths during World War II.
“Standing here, in this place, I want to say clearly – that the leaders of Hamas, an anti-Western, anti-Semitic terrorist organization, cannot be safe while they continue to target innocent civilians,” he said. “Just as every European leader would do, just as the United States did with Osama bin Laden, so we will pursue every leader of Hamas.”
Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar said Netanyahu was right to order Israel’s delegation to return to Israel from Cairo.
“They shouldn’t go back,” he said. “Reaching a deal with Hamas is mistaken and has no purpose. It is wrong to give Hamas achievements unilaterally.
It could help them take over the PA and become the official representative of the PA. We need to decide not to try anymore to reach a deal with Hamas, which is like making a deal with ISIS.”
Sa’ar, who is not a member of the security cabinet, said that Netanyahu should brief the full cabinet on the Gaza operation more often.