(photo credit: Courtesy)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to charges that he was not doing enough to end Arab violence Monday by saying he and everyone else in power are doing everything possible.
At a meeting of the Likud faction in the Knesset, Netanyahu praised the Shin Bet security service for its efforts to catch the murderer of two Israelis in Tel Aviv on Friday and for solving the July 31 murders of three Palestinians at their home in Duma.
“I expect everyone to fully support the police, Shin Bet chief and his men, the police inspector-general, and the public security minister,” Netanyahu told the MKs. “They work around the clock. I also work around the clock. When it’s hard, we don’t get tired, we work harder and when it’s hard, we don’t sleep.”
Netanyahu denied charges that he discriminates against Israeli Arabs, noting that his government approved a large allocation to the sector last week. But he said Israel would act against extremists from all sectors, including Israeli Arabs.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon defended security forces’ efforts and the prime minister in a briefing to the Knesset Reporters’ Association.
“The feeling that we’re not doing anything is wrong,” he stated. “There’s no doubt we’re in a wave of terror, but at the same time there are acts of prevention all day, every day. Look at the other side: About 140 killed, more than 1,500 arrests and thousands injured. The army and security services are working,” Kahlon said.
The finance minister and Security Cabinet member said that until the terrorism stops, the efforts will not stop and the cabinet will continue making more decisions to fight terrorism.
Asked about Netanyahu’s comments on law enforcement in the Arab sector, Kahlon said: “There is not one meeting I have had with Arab leaders and mayors in which they haven’t begged us to collect illegal weapons.
“Thousands of illegal guns are a big threat... Today, criminals have them, but tomorrow they can be used for terrorism. We must quickly give the police and security forces the means to [collect the guns]. I feel strongly about this,” he added.
As for the criticism of Netanyahu’s statements, Kahlon said: “I don’t see incitement. How is saying everyone must follow the law incitement? “There is a coalition of Arab leaders who want this. It’s not against Arabs. It’s for rule of law. It will make things better for Arab citizens; they want to live in a place with laws, too,” Kahlon said.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog criticized a speech Netanyahu delivered Saturday night near the site of the Tel Aviv murders in which he vowed to take action against Israeli Arabs who are not loyal to the state.
“We have no prime minister anymore,” Herzog told his Zionist Union faction. “Instead, we have a tired man who spoke that night from a podium that said Prime Minister’s Office and incited against a fifth of the public.”
Herzog said the current violence was no passing fad. He said Israel was facing a third intifada and that it would not end soon.
“Israel needs a new plan,” the Zionist Union head said.
“If there was a prime minister, he would work together with the United States and moderate Arab countries to end the violence. The people of Israel deserve to have a prime minister.”
Herzog’s number two in the Zionist Union, MK Tzipi Livni made reference to a list of government talking points that were allegedly given to ministers, which included a comparison between the number of Israelis killed in terrorist attacks and car accidents.
“The message is we don’t want to deal with it, so get used to living in fear,” Livni said. “But the citizens of Israel should not have to get used to it.” Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said the people of Israel feel unsafe and need a “revolution of law and order.” He called for a massive increase in funding for law enforcement authorities and for expediting the pace of the courts.
“Without law and order, there is no democracy,” Lapid said. “It can’t go on this way.”
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman lamented what he called the public’s loss of a feeling of security and its faith in the ability of the government to do what is necessary to end terrorism.
“We need to defeat terrorism rather than contain it,” Liberman said. “We shouldn’t wait for more victims and then respond. This government is waiting for quiet instead of bringing it about.”
Liberman said that rather than give money to the Arab sector through the influence of Joint List leader Ayman Ouda, Netanyahu’s government should be strengthening Arab moderates. He said Israel should also stop providing the Palestinian Authority with its tax revenues.
“It’s time for the government to pass the reins to those who know how to end terrorism,” Liberman said. “I don’t recommend forming a new government with the current Knesset.
The people have to go to elections and decide.”