Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his opening speech to the Knesset's winter session, October 27.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
In his first public remarks since being branded "chickenshit" by an Obama administration official, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that he "cares for every citizen and soldier" and that he would withstand pressure and forgo "applause on lawns" that come with territorial concessions.
"I am being attacked because I am willing to defend the State of Israel," Netanyahu said on the Knesset podium during a special session honoring the memory of assassinated tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi.
Jeffrey Goldberg, diplomatic correspondent for The Atlantic
, reported Tuesday that he recently spoke to a senior Obama administration official about, "the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most." The unnamed official reportedly told Goldberg: “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit.”
“The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars,” the official said.
“The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon, he’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts.”
In his Knesset speech, the prime minister said, "the easy thing to do is to compromise when there is pressure," but that he would not do anything to endanger Israel's security.
"The safety of Israel is not important to those who attack me anonymously and personally," Netanyahu said. "They're attacking me because I stand for our safety and our security interests."
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While Netanyahu was adamant that he would insist on Israel's right to build housing in all of Jerusalem, he also made sure to praise the US.
"I laud the deep connection we have with the United States," the prime minister said. "We have more support from the American people than ever, and our strategic ties continue."
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