Netanyahu spreads arms 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
As reports surfaced Wednesday that Israel and the Palestinian Authority
were headed toward renewing negotiations, Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu told MKs that talks were brewing, but also defended his
internationally controversial decision to include Rachel’s Tomb and the
Cave of the Patriarchs on a list of national heritage sites.
seems that the conditions are being prepared for talks between us and
the Palestinian Authority. It is still not happening,” emphasized
“Ultimately, the world does understand – and how it
does – that this government is aiming for negotiations. That it took
difficult steps to advance that negotiation. That it both says things
and does things,” he said.
Netanyahu blamed the Palestinians
for refusing to enter negotiations and instead “made demands that they
had never made previously since the first day of negotiations 16 years
But Netanyahu also reiterated that “The Cave of the
Patriarchs is one of the first sites of the Jewish people’s heritage.
The Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb have been a part of our
heritage for 4,000 years. We must allow the younger generation to
connect to that heritage.
Netanyahu added that just as
maintenance work had been carried out on the Muslim side of the Cave of
the Patriarchs, the same must be done on the Jewish side.
response to criticism by Kadima of the government’s decision to include
the two sites on the list, Netanyahu said that two of the party’s MKs,
Tzahi Hanegbi and Shlomo Molla, had asked him to include the sites.
was speaking during a hearing that was initiated after 40 opposition
MKs signed a demand for the prime minister to address the Knesset on
the subject of “The State of Israel under Netanyahu’s leadership – to
Addressing the Knesset after Netanyahu, opposition leader Tzipi Livni blasted the premier.
administration, she said, had not made substantial progress in foreign
policy or domestic affairs during his first year in office. She further
accused Netanyahu of having risen to his post through manipulations and
Livni spoke out particularly strongly regarding
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s recent attacks against the Israel
Police for allegedly leaking details of Lieberman’s ongoing criminal
Livni said that she had not originally intended
to discuss the ongoing investigation of the foreign minister, but that
after watching Lieberman blast the police during a press conference
earlier in the day, she was moved to speak.
Netanyahu himself did not mention the investigation during his lengthy speech.
heard the deputy prime minister attacking the chief of police,” she
said. “Who is supposed to defend the Israel Police? The minister in
charge of them? You are responsible for the disrespect toward law
enforcement. It is happening in your backyard. Be a prime minister.”
Likud was quick to fire back, issuing a statement that “we are sorry
that Tzipi Livni does not act with the same responsibility that
Netanyahu acted when he was the opposition chair, defending Israel
against international attackers without taking politics into
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch,
a member of Lieberman’s own party, accused Livni of not being
“updated,” and said that he had consistently supported the Israel
Prior to Netanyahu’s speech, a number of opposition and coalition
members took the podium to attack – and defend – the prime minister and
Kadima faction chairwoman MK Dalia Itzik called on the prime minister
to form a “true national unity government” by bringing Kadima in as a
Gil Hoffman and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.