MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) faced off against opposition leader Tzipi Livni in the
Knesset on Monday by praising Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for negotiating
Gilad Schalit’s release from captivity, one day after Livni publicly slammed the
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“The Schalit deal sets a dangerous precedent for the number of
murderers freed,” Mofaz said in a special plenum meeting during the last week of
the Knesset’s summer recess.
“Despite this, I supported an exchange in
the last government and the current government.
It is our responsibility
to bring our soldiers home. I think the right thing was done, considering the
circumstances,” he explained.
At the same time, Mofaz, chairman of the
Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, pointed out that military action
was not an option.
“Why couldn’t a military operation have freed Schalit?
Why didn’t we have the necessary intelligence?” he asked, saying that his
committee would investigate these questions.
MK Ronnie Bar-On (Kadima)
was more critical of the prime minister, saying that “now everyone is talking
about your leadership, but you and I know it’s not real. Those who are
flattering you today, when things get complicated, will be after your head.
“Don’t get lost in the spotlight that is directed at you
lately,” Bar-On added. “Don’t listen to the people telling you you’re
peace-loving and a great leader.”
In an unusual move, Meretz MK Zehava
Gal-On defended Netanyahu, congratulating him “on the brave steps he took in
freeing Gilad Schalit.”
“Kadima MKs, you stand here on the stage and you
can’t give [Netanyahu] even a little bit of credit? That is very unfortunate,”
“Don’t get excited. I’m not a fan of the prime minister,”
she quipped. “But we must know how to give credit for courage and leadership.”
Gal-On called on the government to “take more risks to bring the end of the
“We must make difficult decisions to save us all. If we
swallowed the bitter pill of talking to Hamas, who does not recognize us, then
we can definitely talk to [PA President Mahmoud] Abbas and the Palestinian
Authority,” she explained.
“In post-apartheid South Africa, prisoners
were released from both sides of the conflict.
There are things that must
be done in the name of appeasement.”
Most of the Knesset meeting was
focused on its declared topics: “The Netanyahu government’s failure in
diplomatic, economic and social matters,” “The Netanyahu government is doing
everything to dissolve the social protests,” and “The Trajtenberg Report ignores
the crisis in the Arab population.”
Gal-On called the committee headed by
Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, meant to recommend socioeconomic reforms following
this summer’s protests “Trajten-bluff.”
“You can’t ignore the protests,
they’ve become international,” she said. “Look what’s happening in New York!” -
referencing the ongoing “Occupy Wall Street” protests decrying the uneven
distribution of wealth in the US.
Mofaz accused the prime minister of
“hiding from winds of change and hope.”
“Israel must be brought back to a
path of social justice and human dignity,” he added.
“We must go back to
the values of our Jewish heritage.”
“Public relations tactics [following
Gilad Schalit’s release] cannot cover the anger and sense of loss when social
gaps are widening,” MK Ruhama Avraham-Balila (Kadima) explained. “The
Trajtenberg Committee is a trick; its recommendations lack content and cannot be
“This nation is not stupid,” she said. “No one thinks that
the Trajtenberg Committee’s conclusions will change the state. We need deep,
real change, not reforms that will make the rich richer and ignore the
Kadima MK Ronit Tirosh called the Trajtenberg report
“populist,” accusing the committee of “recycling legislation.”
offered us free education from age three, but we already have such a law. The
government has been postponing its implementation,” she said.
to Tirosh, “if the government approves changes, it needs to expand the budget.
We can shrink the social gaps with patience and hard work.”
MK Ahmed Tibi
(UAL-Ta’al) lamented the lack of Israeli Arabs in the 14-member Trajtenberg
Committee, except for in a task force on women’s employment.
barely exist in the report, except for the section on female employment,” he
pointed out. “This is an important topic, but the most critical part of the
report – the housing crisis – Arabs did not get enough attention from the
Tibi called on Jewish members of Knesset to
“volunteer and work on this issue.” After five MKs raised their hands, Tibi
expressed doubt that they would act, telling them to “send an SMS if you do
anything to help.”
Government Services Minister Michael Eitan, who
represented the government, pointed out the contradictions in the opposition’s
“I wonder about what Kadima members say. I heard Livni’s
criticism and the claim that the prime minister does not show leadership,” Eitan
said to a handful of MKs that remained in the plenum.
members are speaking out against Livni.
What kind of leadership does that
party have?” Eitan said that Netanyahu showed leadership in the Schalit deal in
that he “was not dragged after public protests.
Even when under pressure,
the prime minister said he could not accept what Hamas offered at the time, and
waited for a different deal.”
On the Trajtenberg Committee, Eitan said:
“Some are criticizing the recommendations, saying they aren’t
Others complain that they cannot be implemented. If the report is
so bad, why do you want it to be implemented?” To those saying that the
recommendations were not farreaching enough, the Government Services Ministry
explained that the Trajtenberg Committee focused on the middle class, because
they led the protest.
“The committee was formed because of a feeling of
The middle class said there are resources, there is wealth in
the State of Israel, so why don’t we have a higher standard of living?” Eitan
explained, saying this was the question Trajtenberg sought to
Coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) focused on Kadima in his
rebuttal, saying that Mofaz and Bar-On were chosen to speak “in order to hide
“Congratulations on learning to read the polls,” Elkin quipped.
“Kadima is obviously aware of its problems.”