In its attempt on Wednesday to bring Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to task
for what it described as a “failed foreign policy that leads to Israel’s
isolation,” opposition party Kadima also reaped the added benefit of displaying
the deep cracks that continue to plague the Labor Party, which is a member of
The prime minister defended his commitment to ensuring the
success of peace talks, while Kadima MKs slammed Netanyahu’s leadership of the
country, the coalition, and even his party.
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“I value greatly the efforts
by the Obama administration to find a way to advance the peace process. I know
that we have the will to advance it – we have taken action and we will continue
to do so,” said Netanyahu.
“I am certain that the United States also has
such a will, and that they have and are expending efforts. I hope that the
Palestinian Authority also has such a desire, and that they will not search for
excuses to evade talks with us for the advancement of peace and security between
Netanyahu mentioned his upcoming visit to the US next week to
address the General Assembly of Jewish Federations in North America, emphasizing
the importance of maintaining strong ties with Jews in the Diaspora,
particularly with the younger generation.
He specifically mentioned
Taglit-Birthright and Nefesh B’Nefesh as successfully strengthening Jewish
identity in the Diaspora and non-Israeli Jews ties’ to the Jewish State, “not
just on the political level but on the most basic level of
Netanyahu was forced to participate in the Wednesday plenum
debate after 40 MKs signed a petition calling on him to discuss Israel’s
In addition to opposition MKs, four Labor MKs –
Daniel Ben- Simon, Amir Peretz, Eitan Cabel and Ghaleb Majadle – signed the
petition, drawing heavy criticism from fellow coalition
Ben-Simon’s relationship with his coalition’s leadership has
become strained after he was bypassed earlier this week for the chairmanship of
the Immigration and Absorption Committee, which he was supposed to assume at the
start of this Knesset session.
Ben-Simon reportedly requested to speak
during the debate against the prime minister, but his request was denied by
Labor faction chairman Shalom Simhon.
“You like to speak about Churchill,
but your leadership is completely anti-Churchillian,” complained Kadima MK
“While Churchill knew how to enlist politics for the
public interest, Netanyahu chains the national interest to his narrow and petty
politics. Great leaders make decisions – [Menahem] Begin, [Yitzhak] Rabin and
[Ariel] Sharon made big decisions, and Netanyahu cannot even decide on the
parliamentary future of MK Carmel Shama,” continued Plesner, referring to the
Likud MK who, like Ben-Simon, was suddenly denied a promised committee
In keeping with Knesset protocol, opposition leader Tzipi
Livni (Kadima) was the final speaker, following the prime minister.
is not a secret that there are those who hope that there won’t be any American
pressure or involvement in the Middle East. Anyone who understands that Israel’s
national interest is to reach an agreement understands that a strong United
States is an asset for Israel,” she said.
“Could anyone possibly imagine
that a weak United States or a weak American president is good for Israel? That
is not just stupid, it is a danger to Israel,” she said.Jerusalem Post
staff contributed to this report.