Israel will be here forever and overcome terrorism, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in his address to the Knesset at the opening of its winter session Monday.
“After 100 years of terrorism and 100 years of attempts to destroy the Zionist enterprise, our enemies still have not learned,” he said.
“Suicide terrorism was not victorious over us in the ’90s and ’00s, and the terrorism of knives will not defeat us now. What always wins is the recognition that this is our home and our homeland."
“Our will to live trumps our enemies’ desire for death. There is no way to stop the Zionist enterprise,” the prime minister added.
Netanyahu said the “courage of our security forces and our citizens, and the mutual responsibility that characterizes our nation” are what will help Israel overcome terrorism, combined with new laws to stiffen penalties for rock – and firebomb-throwers.
The prime minister pointed out that now is far from the first time libels about the Temple Mount were used to provoke violence against Jews, specifically mentioning lies by the former mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini that sparked the 1929 massacres of Jews in Israel.
Netanyahu read from a Wakf Muslim religious trust-published pamphlet from several years prior to the pogrom that says Haram al-Sharif, the Arabic name for the Temple Mount, is “beyond dispute” at the site of King Solomon’s Temple.
“There are some who still say today that Jews have no connection to the Temple Mount.... They say that Jews make the Mount dirty and impure. They repeat the lie over and over again that we want to destroy al-Aksa Mosque or change the status quo in the place. That is a total lie,” he said.
Netanyahu repeated several times that Israel seeks to maintain the status quo on the Temple Mount and protect the holy places of all religions.
He said that lies are being disseminated by Hamas, the northern branch of the Islamic Movement of Israel – which the prime minister is seeking to outlaw – and the Palestinian Authority.
Netanyahu urged PA President Mahmoud Abbas to denounce terrorism as Netanyahu did hate crimes by Israelis against Arabs.
Netanyahu said that Abbas constantly refuses to negotiate, because he knows that would mean declaring an end to the conflict, giving up on the right of return and recognizing Israel as the Jewish state.
“[The Palestinians’] refusal to recognize a Jewish state in any borders is and has always been the root of the conflict,” he said.
MKs from the Joint List demonstratively walked out when Netanyahu took to the podium, so they were not present when the prime minister accused some of them of incitement.
“We want coexistence, and we are investing in the Arab sector as no government has before, but there is a member of this House who said ‘the Henkin family [killed by Palestinians in front of their two children] are settlers. You cannot treat them as innocent civilians.’ What does that mean? That you’re allowed to murder them?” Netanyahu said, referring to MK Basel Ghattas (Joint List).
The prime minister said MK Haneen Zoabi (Joint List) “did not limit herself to settlers. She justifies acts of terrorism everywhere. She said, with great concern, to a Hamas newspaper two days ago that ‘actions by individuals are not enough, 'you need a full intifada.’ It’s unbelievable. An MK in Israel is calling for mass terrorism against Israeli citizens. There is nothing more justified than a criminal investigation against her.
“Whoever calls for murder or justifies it is not worthy of being a member of this House,” he said.
Netanyahu called on Israeli Arabs to choose between incitement or coexistence and peace.
“You cannot... enjoy all the rights and at the same time undermine the state. I ask you to choose the right way,” he said.
The other speeches, by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, President Reuven Rivlin and opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) called on MKs and the public to be responsible and not incite.
Edelstein spoke very briefly, deciding not to give his planned remarks. “I think that what is expected from us at this time is different, and so my request is that everyone go to a mirror, look at himself in the eyes and say... maybe this is the time for which I was elected,” Edelstein said. “As a public leader I will tell the people who chose me, things they may not want to hear, because if we do not do that, no one else will,” Edelstein said. “That is my only request from MKs at this time.”
Rivlin urged MKs to avoid referring to career military people as burdens and to approve an IDF budget that would allow for long-term planning.
In addition, the president said some political leaders, and others, are trying to turn the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a religious one, adding that “anyone who does such a thing has our blood on their hands.”
“The Jewish people and the State of Israel do not have, nor ever will have, a war with Islam.
The horrible lie that depicts the State of Israel as seeking to change the status quo on the Temple Mount is not only a blatant falsehood, but also a dangerous plot that has cost innocent lives...
“Israel is not trying to prevent Muslims from praying in their holy places, as Israel would never harm the mosques on the Temple Mount. And I believe that the disseminators of this lie know this fact well.”
Rivlin recounted that, as a child growing up in Jerusalem, one could have been sent to jail by British soldiers for blowing the shofar by the then-tiny Western Wall plaza, and that as a nation that experienced violations of its freedom of worship, Israelis would never act in such a way.
“The attempt to play on our most primal fears, the attempt to ignite the messianic fundamentalist imagination, will not only cost lives, but deepen the grip of despair,” the president added. “Unleashing the specter of religious zeal, is to attempt to undermine any positive effort being made here to establish trust between Arabs and Jews....
“Specifically during these tense days, we must remember that building trust between Jews and Arabs within Israel and outside, it is not just an option – it is a necessity.”
Rivlin called for public leaders to support cooperation and trust, and not hatred and enmity.
In his speech, Herzog said: “We are destined to live together in this country, Jews and Arabs together. We are fated to respect one another, despite the difficult reality,” and that Jewish MKs are as responsible to do so as Arab ones, and vice-versa.
Herzog called for MKs to stop inciting and lying and denounce anyone who raises a knife or a stone against a Jew or anyone who hurts an Arab just for being an Arab.
He suggested Israel outlaw the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, as well anti-Arab groups Lehava and La Familia.
Herzog accused Netanyahu of not doing enough to stop terrorism.
“Jerusalem is being divided on your watch,” Herzog said.
“The writing was on the wall [about the wave of violence], but you are like the three monkeys. You don’t hear, don’t see, don’t speak,” Herzog said.
He called on Netanyahu to negotiate with Abbas even if “his hands are not clean,” because Israel must separate itself from the Palestinians, or the Jews were liable to become a minority in the country.