Justice Minister Tzipi Livni speaks to the press in Jerusalem..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli politicians must stop making irresponsible declarations and building in provocative areas, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said Thursday, the day after an Arab terrorist drove his car into Israelis waiting at a Jerusalem light rail station, killing a three-month-old baby and injuring others.
“Jerusalem is on fire,” Livni wrote on Facebook. “My heart is with the family of little Chaya Zissel, who was murdered yesterday in a terrorist attack, and my head is thinking what is the right thing to do to put out the fire and prevent an escalation.”
Livni called to enforce laws against terrorists and rock-throwers, pointing out that during her term as justice minister the punishment for throwing rocks was increased.
At the same time, she wrote: “Condemning [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s] inciting statements about Jerusalem [as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did] is justified, but not enough.
We also must stop our populist declarations, irresponsible draft bills, construction as a provocation and celebrating in the middle of the night when a home in a Muslim neighborhood is taken over [by Jews].”
Livni warned that “we are a step away from a national conflict turning into a religious one,” and that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could turn into a war by all Muslims.
Both sides should behave responsibly to prevent that from happening, she added.
“Justice is on our side, but thank God, we were also blessed with wisdom. One unnecessary step could deteriorate Jerusalem and then all of us. Israeli wisdom and patriotism means hitting the brakes hard, driving responsibly and smartly and braking a minute before it will be too late,” she concluded.
Meanwhile, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett criticized Netanyahu for failing to provide what he perceives as an adequate response to the simmering violence in Jerusalem.
In an interview with Army Radio, Bennett said the government’s leniency invited Wednesday’s vehicular terrorist attack.
“We need to understand that the attack is a direct consequence of the endless rock-throwing and firebombing against the residents, the light rail, and Jewish homes [in the capital],” the Bayit Yehudi chairman said. “More than 200 of these incidents took place in recent months, and they went without an appropriate response.”
Bennett said more Jewish housing in the eastern half of the city as well as a more forceful response from police and security services is the formula for neutralizing unrest.
“It’s quite acceptable to think that what motivates our enemies is despair,” he said. “On the contrary, they are driven by the hope and aspiration to evict us from here. And they think that if they commit more terrorist atrocities then we will throw our hands up in despair and flee.”
“What we need to do is to say [is], ‘We are staying here, we’re building in our capital,’ and I call on the prime minister to expedite the approval of construction permits,” Bennett said. “Without sovereignty, there can be no security.
There’s no need to wait for a terrorist attack in order to put down the iron fist.”
The minister repeated his contention that Abbas “is a bitter enemy who incites to murder and the murder of babies.”
“He didn’t condemn the attack, and I assume that the family of the terrorist will receive generous incentives,” Bennett said.
Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On criticized Bennett and Netanyahu for pointing fingers at Abbas.
“I am pained and shocked at the murder of Chaya Zissel Braun, whose life only began and was cut short… I join her grandfather’s prayer, asking for the bloodshed to stop,” Gal-On wrote on Facebook. “When we look through the sparkling eyes of a murdered baby we see how much this violence [in Jerusalem] is dangerous and at what speed it could deteriorate.”
Gal-On called it unfortunate that Netanyahu and rightwing MKs “prefer to ignore the price of another escalation and blamed and incited, calling to ‘punish’ the Palestinians by building in east Jerusalem.
“Does anyone think that’s what we need now?”