Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened Sunday's cabinet meeting by remembering 9/11, and saying that Israel stands shoulder-to-shoulder with “our greatest ally, the United States of America.”
Netanyahu said Israel also stands with other international partners in “the battle against militant Islamic terrorism that spreads its fear, dread and murder around the world. Our memories are long, our determination is boundless.”
The premier said that civilized societies “must band together to defeat these forces of darkness,” adding that “I'm sure we will.” He made his comment about 9/11 both in Hebrew and English, something rarely done at the start of cabinet meetings.
Netanyahu said that the battle against terrorism is also taking place in social media, and that a senior delegation from Facebook has arrived in the country in recent days with the goal of “improving the cooperation against incitement on social media toward terrorism and murder.”
The premier did not relate in his opening comments to the furor a two-minute video
he uploaded on his own Facebook page on Friday triggered over the weekend that expressed outrage at the world's apparent acquiescence in the Palestinians demand that a future Palestinian state be free of Jews.
“There's a phrase for this demand,” he said. “It's called ethnic cleansing.”
After the comments were roundly condemned by the State department, as well as some opposition Mks, National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz defended them on his way to the cabinet meeting.
“The truth was stated,” Steinitz said. “There is a call here for ethnic cleansing because you have to listen to those making the demands. In English they say 'I want to uproot the settlements because they are illegal and an obstacle to peace.’ But in Arabic they say, ‘I want to cleanse the territory, Palestine, from Jews’.”
He said the US State Department's anger flowed from a misunderstanding of what Netanyahu said, as if he was attacking Washington. Netanyahu sad in the video that what was even more outrageous than the Palestinian demand for a state without Jews, was the that the world “doesn't find this outrageous. Some otherwise enlightened countries even promote this outrage.”
Steinitz said that Netanyahu made no mention about how a final agreement should look or what the final dispensation of the settlements should be. “The prime minister raised a problem, and the problem is racism and anti-Semitism in the Palestinian propaganda.
“Those who really want there to be peace here between Jews and Arabs cannot ignore this problem,” he said. “It is not the prime minister who is talking about ethnic cleansing, he is reflecting what the Palestinians are saying themselves. They are saying it in Arabic, in their education system, and in their media.”