(photo credit: Channel 2)
Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu accused Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in a speech to Likud activists in Kfar Saba on Sunday of encouraging terror against Israel by offering Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas $100 million.
Netanyahu mocked Olmert's policy of restraint in the face of Kassam rockets on Sderot, calling it a unilateral cease-fire. He warned that the $100 million would end up in the hands of Hamas.
"If this hall in Kfar Saba was fired upon by Kassam rockets, there would be an outcry," Netanyahu told a crowd of some 350 activists.
"The day that the government cut funds for rehabilitating poor neighborhoods, they allocated funds for rehabilitating missiles. When they promise the Palestinians more land, they are giving them launching sites for rockets that will be fired on Kfar Saba, Tel Aviv and the center of the country." Netanyahu spoke under a banner promising a new plan of "emboldening Israel" instead of Olmert's former realignment plan, but he made no mention of the plan in his speech.
The Kfar Saba rally was originally planned for late June to protest Olmert's West Bank realignment plan, but was delayed when Cpl. Gilad Shalit was kidnapped. Netanyahu intends to speak in other towns that would be on the border if Olmert withdraws from much of the West Bank. Israel Beiteinu was supposed to take part in the rallies but they have since joined the coalition.
Likud MKs also called upon Shas and Israel Beiteinu to quit the government.
Slamming the decision to give the money to Abbas, MK Limor Livnat said the government had "gone insane" and was rewarding Hamas with $2 million for every Kassam fired.
MK Yuval Steinitz said Abbas was no more a partner today than he was when Olmert declared him not a partner. He accused Olmert of meeting with Abbas in a desperate attempt to obtain an agenda.
Meanwhile, Olmert told a crowd of Kadima activists in Ashkelon on Sunday that Abbas was "not an easy rival but he is a rival that we can talk with to reach an agreement with the Palestinians." The prime minister said an agreement could not be reached by pushing a button but that Israel must face reality. He expressed confidence that providing a diplomatic horizon would help overcome terror and promote quiet in the region, especially in Sderot, Ashkelon and the area around the Gaza Strip.
Referring to ongoing negotiations on the 2007 state budget, Olmert said that no faction would receive all of its demands but promised that new funding would go to help the poor.
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