Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Now, as Israel faces bloodthirsty terrorists, is not the time for partisan politics, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said on Tuesday.
“Many citizens have been screaming for many days and weeks since this wave of terrorism began, that the time has come to do something.
These are trying times for Israel. This is the time to put disputes aside. This is the time for all of us to unite against terrorism. This is the time for us to stand as a united front,” he said, speaking at the Knesset.
Edelstein said he has no doubt most of the public expects politicians to show responsibility and maturity, and put aside everyday politics and ego, because Israel is in a state of emergency.
As such, the Knesset speaker called on “everyone for whom Israel’s future and strength is important and dear, to get up and join the government.”
Opposition speaker Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union), who spoke after Edelstein, said his party “will back every security step you will initiate and lead to bring security back to the state and its citizens, without hesitating or stuttering.
“We will not be in any way, ever, the opposition to the people of Israel and its security,” Herzog said.
Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the Zionist Union to join his coalition, but on Monday, Herzog said that terrorism “is not a reason to join a failing government,” and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid indicated that they felt the same way.
Edelstein and Herzog spoke at a Knesset meeting in memory of former tourism minister Rehavam Ze’evi, who was murdered by terrorists from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine at a hotel in the capital in 2001.
Ze’evi, a major-general, fought in the War of Independence, Six Day War and Yom Kippur War and founded the anti-terrorist battalion Sayeret Charuv.
Ze’evi, an advocate of transferring Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to Arab countries, was not a racist, Edelstein said.
“[Ze’evi] did not want to discriminate against anyone; he just wanted to strengthen the Jewish people’s hold on its homeland. He had good relations with many Arab MKs,” the Knesset speaker added.
Edelstein suggested that “in these stormy days, everyone should moderate their generous use of the term ‘racism’... Let’s keep things proportionate and not dwarf every claim with accusations.”
Herzog said he strongly disagreed with Ze’evi’s political views, but commended him as an expert in fighting terrorism and a proud Israeli fighter.
“The terrorism that murdered [Ze’evi] is still here,” he said. “It is harming citizens of Israel. Stabbings, shootings and murder. We have known difficult waves of terrorism, we knew great pain and we overcame them. This time, we will overcome them again.”
Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, who replaced Ze’evi in the Knesset as a National Union MK, paid tribute to the former minister as “one of the greatest fighters of terrorism since the establishment of the state.”
Ariel extensively quoted from a speech Ze’evi gave about fighting terrorism in 1996, saying that it is still relevant today. In his remarks, Ze’evi said that leaders must make a clear decision to use all security and intelligence arms to fight terrorism and work hard for a long time, but that it would only work if the government gives clear orders. He also said terrorism cannot be won through defensive measures.
The Bayit Yehudi minister said: “Terrorism is not won through concrete blocks or metal detectors. We don’t win when we follow the terrorists’ instructions. We win when police officer and soldiers can react strongly to every provocation without being worried they’ll be cashiered because they were filmed.
“We will win when we stop turning the other cheek, when we give clear orders that do not tie our soldiers’ hands.”
Ariel called for “an appropriate Zionist response” to terrorism, which he said would be construction in the West Bank and Jerusalem.