Avigdor Lieberman 248.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
In the midst of diplomatic and security consultations over how to respond to the kidnapping of a soldier and the killing of two others in Kerem Shalom, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert came to the Knesset on Monday only to be slammed by opposition MKs.
MKs from the Right and Left took turns accusing Olmert of mishandling the security situation in the South and calling upon him to change his course immediately. He received advice from across the political spectrum ranging from assassinating Palestinian Authority heads to signing a peace agreement with them.
On the Right, National Union MK Zvi Hendel, who was evacuated from the Gaza Strip last summer, called upon Olmert to apologize to the evacuees for allowing their former homes to be used as a launching pad for rocket attacks.
Israel Beiteinu head Avigdor Lieberman said Olmert should fire Defense Minister Amir Peretz and order the IDF to recapture the Gaza Strip and kidnap Palestinian leaders to use them as bargaining chips.
"I would certainly not risk waiting to take action because the kidnapped soldier might never come home," opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu said. "The soldier can be released with an assertive approach if the government stops groveling. Unfortunately, the prime minister hasn't learned anything."
Former foreign minister Silvan Shalom (Likud) said that Olmert must keep former prime minister Ariel Sharon's promise of a painful reaction to any attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip after a unilateral withdrawal.
Olmert also got attacked from the Left by Meretz leader Yossi Beilin, who said that the attack on the soldiers in Kerem Shalom was not an act of terrorism because civilians were not targeted. Beilin said he understood the positions of the Right more than Olmert's.
"You are willing to give up 90 percent of the West Bank for nothing, without a security agreement, without demilitarizing the land, without the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and without solving the refugee problem," Beilin said. "Is this all worth it just to keep the remaining 10%? Why is the 10% worth not talking to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas? Why are you so afraid of him?"
Olmert responded by saying that it was crazy not to call the Kerem Shalom incident terror. He said he would hold the PA and Abbas responsible.
"No infiltration into our land can be given legitimacy," Olmert said. "If the soldier is harmed, the leaders and institutions of the PA will be held liable."
Responding to the attacks on the Right, Olmert defended Peretz and the defense establishment. He said Peretz had demonstrated good judgment and responsibility. He said the withdrawal from Gaza had brought down Kassam rocket attacks from 195 in January 2005 to 84 the same month a year later.
"I am the last person who would say that there is a solution up our sleeve," Olmert said. "There are many options, but no magic formula. To prevent Kassams, we use many means, including diplomatic. Nothing will prevent us from acting to protect our people."