Netanyahu speaks at Knesset 248.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke at the opening of the Knesset's winter session in Jerusalem on Monday, taking time to address the precarious state of peace talks with the Palestinians.
In his speech, the prime minister challenged his Palestinian
counterparts to continue the peace talks by saying he would initiate a
cabinet proposal to renew a settlement moratorium if the Palestinian
Authority would declare its recognition of Israel as a national home for
the Jewish people.
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Netanyahu's comments put an
end to a couple of weeks of speculation regarding how he would deal with
the moratorium issue.
He said that
Palestinian recognition would be an important "confidence building
measure" and would send an important positive message to the Israeli
people of Palestinian intentions.
that he sent this message to the Palestinians through a variety of
The prime minister also warned that while
he hoped for the creation of a Palestinian state, only if it was created
in a "responsible manner."
"A Palestinian state
could be a cause of continued conflict and terror if it is not handled
responsibly." The prime minister added, "Palestinian recognition of
Israel as a Jewish state is central to the dispute between us [and is
necessary for its resolution]. If the Palestinians expect a national
state, we can expect our own national state for the Jewish people.".
PM lauds Israel as Middle East's only democracy
The prime minister began his speech harking back to Israel's Zionist founders, telling the assembled MKs that Israel was founded as "a Jewish state for the Jewish people."
Finally, he said, we are living "in freedom, in our own land."
"There is no other democracy in the Middle East, and there is no other Jewish state in the world," the prime minister added.
He also mentioned his visit the previous week to the city Lod
Netanyahu stated that in Lod he saw, "Jews and Arabs working together to defend themselves from violence and criminal groups." He added, "that every Israeli citizen deserves to feel personally safe and secure."Livni slams recent Netanyahu policies in retort
Head of the opposition MK Tzipi Livni (Kadima) speaking after Netanyahu, savaged the prime minister over his recent policies and diplomatic endeavors.
"Maybe you think that some of your followers believe that the last time you flexed your muscles towards the US, it was a demonstration of strength," said Livni.
"I know that you know how wrong this is. I know that you know how much Israel is dependent on the US for its security."
The Kadima leader was also very critical over the government's handling of the settler issue in the peace talks with the Palestinians.
"Under Kadima [rule], we continued to build [in the territories] with the international understanding that it would be an issue resolved in a final, permanent peace settlement [with the Palestinians]. A building freeze was never the policy of Kadima," said Livni.
Livni also strongly criticized the recent amendment passed by the cabinet requiring non-Jews seeking Israeli citizenship to declare their loyalty to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
Livni slammed, as she put it, "A law born by the fears of Lieberman and the prime minister." She added, "the law is unconstitutional and dangerous because it hurts us all."
President Shimon Peres spoke before the prime minister, expressing his
hope that Israel will succeed in resolving disagreements over core
issues and achieving a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
"It is up to our generation to resolve these difficult issues," Peres
said. "If we stay passive the negative forces will gain strength. I hope
that we will succeed in this historic test."
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin officially opened the Winter Session, and
accused the Netanyahu government of attempting to turn the Knesset into a
rubber stamp and imposing a "mini-presidency."
"I am committed to address this very different political process, an
issue that a majority of Israeli's and those who they elected, find much
less interesting," said Rivlin in his opening speech.