Preventing Iran from opening an additional front against Israel on the Golan Heights, as well as delivering Hamas the blow of its lifetime last summer, were among the outgoing government’s chief accomplishments, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday at the last meeting of the 33rd government.
At a brief cabinet meeting, Netanyahu summarized the outgoing cabinet’s achievements with a special emphasis on what he said were the government’s success – for the most part – at keeping the region’s tumultuous events from spilling over Israel’s borders.
The bulk of the cabinet meeting dealt with passing legislation that will raise the number of government ministers from 18 to 20.
“In the over two years of this government’s existence, since its first meeting, the region around us has been roiling and stormy,” he said “And despite the many attempts to challenge us on our borders, we rebuffed all of these attempts bar none.”
In addition to rebuffing Iran on the Golan, and Hamas in Gaza, Netanyahu also said Israel kept Hezbollah at bay in southern Lebanon, and thwarted “unceasing efforts to bring advanced weaponry from Syria to Lebanon.”
Above all, he said, the outgoing government “acted unceasingly against Iran’s attempts to arm itself with nuclear weapons. This effort is at its peak. We will not relent. We will continue to maintain Israel’s right to defend itself under any conditions and in any situation.”
Netanyahu said Israel’s attempts to make diplomatic progress with the Palestinians were foiled by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to make “difficult decisions,” opting instead to abandon the negotiations with Israel, turn unilaterally to the international arena and enter an alliance with Hamas.
But while Netanyahu was blaming Abbas, the EU issued a statement slamming Israel for plans to build 900 more units in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, and saying that “Israel’s determination to continue its settlement policy despite the urging of the international community, not only threatens the viability of the two-state solution but also seriously calls into question its commitment to a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians.”
Peace Now announced on Thursday that the Jerusalem District Planning Committee approved construction of 900 homes in the primarily haredi neighborhood just beyond the 1949 Armistice Line in the capital.