bibi 298 88 aj.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Knesset on Monday that UN Security Council Resolution 1701 "will change fundamentally our strategic situation on the northern border."
The war in Lebanon has demonstrated that "we will respond with force to every terror act, from the north or the south, from land or sea ... and that the State of Israel won't suffer any harm to come to its sovereignty or citizens," Olmert declared.
According to the prime minister, the resolution's main achievement was that "the entire international community agrees that the terror state in Lebanon must be annihilated," he said. "The Security Council decided unanimously that there are only Israel and Lebanon - no longer a state within a state, no longer a terror organization permitted to act inside Lebanon as the long arm of the axis of evil that stretches from Teheran to Damascus and uses Lebanon in its weakness as a tool in its war."
Olmert also said he took full responsibility for the conduct of the war. The government "did not mislead ourselves or anyone else" going into the conflict, he declared.
"At long last," Olmert told the MKs, "the single address for our policy in the North has been decided: the government of Lebanon. The international system in its entirety is committed to this."
The prime minister declared that "IDF operations over the past month have hurt the murderous organization [Hizbullah] to a degree that is not yet known to the public. Its weapons, its long-range arsenal and the self-confidence of its fighters and leaders have been harmed." He added that "IDF soldiers won every battle."
Speaking of Hizbullah's leadership, Olmert emphasized that "they fled into hiding" as soon as fighting began.
"Let me be clear," he told the MKs. Hizbullah's leadership "won't be forgiven. We will hunt them down at every time and in every place, and we won't ask permission from anyone" to destroy them.
Responding to criticism over the war's end, Olmert admitted that "we didn't achieve every aim" but counseled "patience. This battle for the justice of Zionism won't end today, and not in the near future. A nation who wishes to defeat fundamentalist extremist terror needs nerves of steel," and "a people who returned to its land after 2,000 years has patience. Therefore," the prime minister assured, "we will win."
Olmert also admitted that "There were mistakes made [in managing the war]," and promised that "We will examine everything that needs examination." But, he said, "We won't sink into blame and guilt. We don't have that luxury. We must assure that next time - and there may be a next time - things will be done better."
Opposition leader MK Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud) told the Knesset plenum that "Unfortunately, there will be another round [in this war] because the government's just demands weren't met" by the cease-fire agreement that went into effect Monday morning.
"The [kidnapped] soldiers weren't returned home, the Hizbullah was not disarmed â€¦ Right now, we are [merely] in an interim period between wars," Netanyahu warned. "And there is no one who will prevent our enemies from rearmed and preparing for the next round."
"We were a responsible opposition," Netanyahu said. "We aided in every way, including in the media war." But "our public duty is to tell the truth, because unfortunately there will be another round."
Netanyahu warned that "We were living in a coma, and received an alarm warning telling us to return to reality as it is, and to return to ourselves and to those values that will secure our existence in the future."
He also asked MKs why an emergency situation wasn't declared in the North of the country during the fighting, in which over a million northern residents were forced to leave their homes and business ground to a halt. "I can't answer this question," he said. "If ever there was a reason to implement the law for an emergency situation, this was it, even more than any other war."
Netanyahu's concluding words were to Iran and Hizbullah. "You won't defeat us," he said, adding that "We've overcome worse than you."
Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik (Kadima), speaking at the special meeting, called for the establishment of an emergency national unity government.
"Prime Minister, establish a national emergency government that will determine the mistakes we made over the years that led to this war," Itzik said at the opening of a special Knesset session called to discuss the end of fighting in Lebanon. "This [new] government must prepare us for the next war.
"This government will express the consensus among the people over our just execution of this war," she added. "This is the national call to readiness of us all."
The war, Itzik declared, was "over the fact of our existence here." Its main lesson, she added, was that "we insisted too early on being a normal people, on sitting in cafes, investing in tourism. [This war] has proven that we are a people who lives on its sword against those who would kill us. The flags of security and defense were folded too quickly."
Itzik also called on the prime minister "to establish a minister for the rehabilitation of the North. This should be the purview of the Finance Minister in order to save bureaucratic problems.
Despite its current vacation, Itzik announced that "the Knesset will meet every day, with all its committees, until the North is rehabilitated."
"We all acted responsibly, the coalition and the opposition," she complimented the MKs, but warned, "We can't let the Hizbullah be the only thing that unites us.
"MKs," she declared, "for God's sake, stop fighting. The soldiers still in Lebanon want to know that we're united. The people want us to be quiet."