Lebanon becoming Iranian satellite, Netanyahu warns

"This is tragedy for Lebanon, but we know how to defend ourselves," PM says at Kibbutz Degania cabinet meeting; Schalit family protests outside.

Netanyahu head (photo credit: Ariel Schalit/AP)
Netanyahu head
(photo credit: Ariel Schalit/AP)
Taking a break from oaths of allegiance, settlement construction moratoriums and other burning issues on the agenda, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took his cabinet on a field trip on Sunday to Kibbutz Deganya, where – to commemorate 100 years of the kibbutz movement – the weekly cabinet meeting was held at the country’s first kibbutz.
The pastoral setting on the shores of Lake Kinneret, however, could not totally obscure the country’s challenges, and Netanyahu, standing next to a Syrian tank on Deganya that was stopped by the kibbutz’s defenders during the War of Independence, spoke of the challenges that hadn’t disappeared, and of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent visit to Lebanon.
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That is a tragedy for Lebanon, but we in Israel will know how to defend ourselves and build our country.”
At the opening of the cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said that the “story of the kibbutzim is a glorious account in the annals of the state: rural settlement, security, and both creative and practical endeavors.”
“The people of the kibbutzim were rooted in the land,” he said. “They worked the soil at dawn and stood in its defense after dusk. Therefore, we have a great debt to this institution, and today we will submit for the cabinet’s approval a series of decisions to strengthen the kibbutzim, encourage agricultural and rural settlement, strengthen infrastructures and encourage tourism.”
Meeting in the Pioneers Yard, where the kibbutz’s original buildings were renovated and turned into its social and cultural center, the cabinet approved a NIS 22 million heritage plan for renovating historic kibbutz sites, and another NIS 200m. to be equally distributed over the next two years to advance agriculture and rural settlement throughout the country, strengthen infrastructure at historic sites, develop scenic and nature sites and encourage tourism.
Among the kibbutz projects to be funded are the renovation of the historic Kinneret Cemetery; the War of Independence battlefield at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai; upgrading and development of the Kfar Etzion visitors’ center; renovation of A.D. Gordon’s house at Deganya (Alef); renovation of the Hannah Senesh museum at Sdot Yam; renovation of the coins and metals museum at Kibbutz Tze’elim; and redeveloping and renovating the Museum of Pioneer Settlement at Kibbutz Yifat.
Netanyahu also toured the Kinneret Cemetery, where singer Naomi Shemer and Zionist luminaries such as Rachel the Poet, Moses Hess and Berl Katznelson are buried.
In the visitors’ book next to Rachel’s grave, Netanyahu wrote, “To the cemetery on the shores of the Kinneret, upon the restoration of the site and the revival of national interest in its Zionist heritage and her poetry. Binyamin Netanyahu.”