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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Likud Party leader Binyamin Netanyahu promised to build "an iron wall against Hamas" by moving the security fence further away from the pre-1967 border Sunday night, as he addressed a cheering crowd of supporters in Hadera.
"We will push the security fence away from us, away from the airport, away from Jerusalem and from Gush Dan, so they will not get close to us, that is what we will do," Netanyahu pledged.
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His words were translated into Russian as he spoke for the benefit of the mostly Russian-speaking audience.
Addressing Kadima's plan for further territorial withdrawal, Netanyahu said, "No sane nation would give away territory without cause." There are only two possibilities why Kadima is making such statements, he said. Either Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert doesn't understand the threat posed by Hamas or he is tired of fighting. By promising further territorial withdrawals, "Kadima and Olmert are rewarding terror," Netanyahu warned.
Hamas wants to destroy Israel and is also allied with Iran, which similarly seeks to eliminate Israel, said Netanyahu.
"With all that, the best Kadima has to suggest is to give Hamas more land and money," Netanyahu said. Such action only empowers the international community to make similar gestures towards Hamas, he said.
Netanyahu cited a conversation he had with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in which he told Netanyahu that Israel's decision to transfer to the Palestinian Authority tax revenues held by Israel had made the German foreign minister feel his country could similarly give money to the Hamas-led government.
Netanyahu said Steinmeier told him, "Your government is giving to Hamas, why should we be more pro-Israel than the Israelis?" Steinmeier could not be reached by press time to comfirm netanyahu's statements.
Likud MK Dan Naveh on Sunday thanked Kadima for "taking off its masks a week ahead of Purim and revealing itself as a leftist party."
Netanyahu also announced at that press conference that the Likud would be starting a new membership drive.
He said that after the party gave its members the right to select its MKs, the next logical step was to open the ranks of the party to new members. Party leaders said they wanted to up the membership from its current 130,000 to the 300,000 the party hit at its peak ahead of the 2002 Likud leadership race between Netanyahu and Sharon.
In Hadera, Netanyahu promised to help immigrants. In light of their complaints against the welfare-to-work program known as the Wisconsin plan, Netanyahu said that if elected he would create a committee to investigate its effectiveness.
"The hard days are behind us and the good days are before us," he said.