Netanyahu plants a tree on Tu Bishvat 390.
(photo credit: Amir Cohen/Reuters)
The Palestinian Authority has embraced terrorist organizations instead of peace,
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday.
Speaking at a
special plenum meeting in honor of the Knesset’s 63rd birthday, Netanyahu said
that the PA avoids acting to stop extremists, allowing them to incite against
Israel in their government-run media and institutions.
“We said [the PA]
needs to choose between the path of Hamas and the path of peace,” he said. “The
Palestinians embraced terrorist organizations that call for Israel’s
Although Israel also has extremists, the government has
responded quickly in trying to stop their agenda, such as discrimination against
women, Netanyahu added.
President Shimon Peres also spoke in the plenum,
saying that “painful decisions” must be made, and that a new future must be
outlined with a Jewish state with safe borders next to an independent,
demilitarized Palestinian state.
Otherwise, he said, Israel will become a
“borderless state of two peoples, which means an ongoing fight between two
Peres called for the renewal of peace talks, but added that the
PA must choose between the path of “Hamas that aspires to terror” and the path
of “Fatah that is ready for negotiations.”
Netanyahu also discussed the
importance of the Knesset in his speech, calling Israel a strong democracy that
should serve as an example to its neighbors. He mentioned checks and balances in
the government system and calling the judiciary “one of the best in the world,
and that is how it will stay.”
According to the prime minister, Israeli
democracy is even stronger than that of the US and Great Britain, which he said
limited individual freedoms during wartime. Israel, however, is
constantly under threat and never implemented such measures, he
“Some mistakenly see elections as the face of democracy, but a true
democracy is measured in the time between elections, by its freedoms of the
individual and the balance between the branches of government,” Netanyahu
stated. “This should not be taken for granted.”
recent controversies regarding MKs’ behavior, the prime minister said that the
public “does not sufficiently appreciate the work of the Knesset” because its
members do not always speak respectfully to each other or use appropriate
He called on MKs to remember, first and foremost, that they
represent and are responsible for the entire nation, not only the group that
votes for a specific party.
“The population of Israel is made up of
different publics – secular, religious, haredi [ultra-Orthodox], new immigrants
and old, Muslim, Druse, Circassian, Beduin,” Netanyahu said. “I ask all MKs to
represent the public before representing a public.”
Reuven Rivlin and opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima) focused on the lack of
“After 63 years, it seems to me that we can say the
Knesset failed in its role to write a constitution,” Rivlin said. “We
work very hard as legislators, but we have been stuck in our constitutional
efforts for 20 years, since Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty and Basic Law:
Freedom of Occupation were passed.”
In recent months the Knesset has
voted on laws dealing with the “raw nerves” of Israeli society, making it
essential for the legislature to remember its role in drafting a constitution,
Livni said that a constitution was meant to “pave a path”
for Israel when it was established, so that it would not lose its way.
cannot celebrate the Knesset’s birthday without asking why there is not a
constitution ensuring that all citizens are equal, she stated.
leader also said that a constitution is important because it would legislate an
equal status for Judaism and democracy in the characteristics of the state.