Bibi warns against Olmert's 'shelf plan'

At party gathering, Likud chairman says it isn't possible to "buy peace in Abu Mazen's supermarket."

netanyahu likud 248.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
netanyahu likud 248.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu lashed out Sunday at Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's reported strategy of reaching an agreement with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and then shelving it until conditions in the Palestinian Authority allow its implementation. Speaking to Likud central committee members in a pre-Pessah toast at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds, Netanyahu accused Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak of trying to create a Palestinian partner who does not exist by making concessions that do. "I ask Olmert and Barak, to whom would you give the parts of the homeland that you are so eager to leave?" Netanyahu said. "I hear that Olmert and Abu Mazen [Abbas] are working on a 'shelf plan' - as if it is possible to buy peace in Abu Mazen's supermarket. In this plan, Israel pays for everything in advance and receives nothing in return." Netanyahu said that building up the economy in the West Bank would do more to bring about peace than a thousand "shelf plans" in Abbas's supermarket. Israelis had paid a hefty price for the mistakes of Olmert and Barak and would continue to do so unless they were immediately replaced, he said. "The mistakes of one leader cannot be fixed by a thousand generals," Netanyahu said. "Barak made a mistake by leaving Lebanon [in 2000, when he was prime minister], which strengthened Hizbullah. Olmert made a mistake by leaving Gaza [in 2005], which strengthened Hamas. They both created new Muslim fundamentalist strongholds." Netanyahu used the occasion to call on Shas to leave the coalition. He asked Shas chairman Eli Yishai: "Until when will you sit in the government? Until we return to '67 borders? Until a Palestinian flag flies on the Temple Mount? Leave the government and stop the evil decree." Ahead of Netanyahu's speech, the committee approved a series of technical measures and initiated the race for chair of the Likud central committee, which will pit Netanyahu's candidate, MK Moshe Kahlon, against former Likud MK Gila Gamliel. Kahlon did not speak at the event, while Gamliel delivered a lengthy and emotional address and distributed hundreds of flyers. In her speech and in the flyers, Gamliel promised to convene at least three central committee meetings a year, including an ideological forum. She said she would create subcommittees on ideological issues and insist on more money for Likud branches. Gamliel also intends to create a "professional public relations task force" of central committee members and to initiate a plan to allow committee members to approve the appointment of ministers. She said that contrary to its media-distorted image, the central committee contained many quality people of whom the party could be proud. "It's all too easy to smear an entire population, but it's hard to fix the damage," Gamliel said. "The media has a double-standard for lawbreakers in Kadima and Labor. But the more they smear us, the more we will rise in support among the nation."