Likud heats up its fight against the press

Likud MK Uzi Landau: the press hates us but the public loves us.

Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu and other top Likud officials intensified their battle against the press Monday in a large rally at Jerusalem's Knesset Towers Hotel. One by one, Likud leaders took turns attacking not Kadima's policy papers and channels of communication with the Palestinian Authority, but the papers and channels that report the news. "Let's emerge victorious," Netanyahu said to a room full of hundreds of Likud activists. "Let's surprise the reporters and the pollsters and win this election." Likud MK Uzi Landau, who has been touring across the country in a "Bibi-bus" with the Likud leader's picture on it, said he had learned from his travels that "the press hates us but the public loves us." MK Gideon Sa'ar, who heads he Likud's public relations team, took the criticism of the press a step further. "In the media, they are throwing dirt on us and all we can do about it is prove them wrong in the ballot box," Sa'ar said. "They are not reporting a single word about Bibi and how skilled a leader he is. Only the dirt... The press wants to assassinate the Likud. They are developing right-wing parties [like Israel Beiteinu] and calling them a new hope - when they normally throw stones at them - just because they want to see us fall." A Likud activist said at the rally that the attacks on the press were intended as an alibi for Netanyahu to later explain why he lost the day after the March 28 election. Earlier in a speech to the diplomatic corps at Tel Aviv's Dan Hotel, Netanyahu criticized Olmert's plans to withdraw unilaterally from much of the West Bank. "We do not believe in a unilateral withdrawal," Netanyahu said. "We believe the way to achieve peace is precisely the opposite - reducing the power of terror and encouraging moderates. We have a clear plan to encourage the rise of a moderate Palestinian leadership." Netanyahu also said Hamas was a proxy regime of Iran that sought to destablize the entire region and threaten the world. "We must prevent at all costs the rise of sovereign militant Islamic states, and one of them has just risen here yesterday," Netanyahu said. "Fatah was in many ways a local force, but this is not Fatah with a green keffiyeh. It seeks to destroy Israel and then proceed with the West. It is such an extreme government that even Fatah and the Popular Front did not join it. We believe it must be weakened and ultimately replaced. It is a regime that will seek to also spread eastward and bring down moderate regimes. Giving them land will strengthen them both morally and politically." Asked about the issue of foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority, Netanyahu said: "We can't negotiate with an entity that seeks our destruction. On humanitarian issues, such as bird flu for instance, we will have to deal with any neighbor, but political negotiations are absurd. It is perfectly possible to weaken them. This means you do not give the regime any aid, because it will go towards terror. Aid must be given directly to people, one has to go around the regime, otherwise it will be giving money to those who seek our - and your - destruction."