Prime Minister Binyamin Netayahu criticized in his speech before the Knesset plenum on Wednesday the members of the Kadima party, saying that there are no real differences between his principles and theirs.
Netanyahu mentioned the speech he gave before the Knesset prior to his trip the United States. During that speech he laid down five conditions for a peace treaty with the Palestinian Authority Arabs:
1. The Palestinians must recognize Israel as the Jewish nation’s state.
2. The treaty must be an end to the conflict.
3. The Arab refugee problem must be solved outside of Israel’s borders.
4. A Palestinian state will have to be demilitarized and a peace treaty must safeguard Israel’s security.
5. The settlement blocs will remain within the state of Israel and Jerusalem will remain its united capital.
“Do you agree to the demand for recognition by the Palestinians of Israel as a Jewish state?” Netanyahu asked the members of Kadima. “Do you agree with the demand that any agreement must include an end to the conflict? Do you agree to keep the settlement blocs?”
Netanyahu then called on the members of Kadima to join and support his government during what he described as “the test which we stand,” rather than attacking the government over and over.
This is not the first time that Netanyahu has called on Kadima, which is currently the largest party in the Knesset, to join his coalition.
Schmerling said during a radio interview that he believes the gaps between Kadima and Netanyahu’s Likud party are not so great now and the two would be able to cooperate in a coalition.
Kadima’s members have criticized Netanyahu over his Congress speech, saying it failed to promote the political process and present a real plan for peace.
Kadima head and opposition leader, MK Tzipi Livni, had previously criticized the Prime MInister for not accepting the contents of President Barack Obama's speech, in which he said that the 1949 armistice lines should be the basis of negotiations. She was roundly criticized by some members of her own party for what was termed politically motivated automatic disagreement with the Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, MK Aryeh Eldad of the National Union party said on Wednesday in response to Netanyahu’s remarks, “Netanyahu's speech was trying to embarrass Kadima by showing that there are absolutely no differences between his principles and their principles, but he only managed to embarrass those members of Likud who are faithful to the Land of Israel by demonstrating that there is no difference between his principles and the principles of Peace Now.”
Kadima MK Orit Zuaretz also responded to Netanyahu’s speech, calling it “an empty political statement. Netanyahu is emerging as the Prime Minister of Google, which deals with cyber threats and not with reality. His failures and the failures of his government over the past two years overdid it. Israelis are collapsing under the tax burden.”
Netanyahu’s appeal to Kadima came after earlier on Wednesday coalition and opposition factions in the Knesset sparred over the price of cottage cheese, with Kadima MK Ronit Tirosh placing a small container of cottage cheese in front of Netanyahu.
The special session of the plenum was called to discuss the recent rise in prices, and the opposition focused especially on cottage cheese, largely in part due to the growing Facebook campaign to boycott cottage cheese until its price goes down.
Tirosh blamed Netanyahu’s policies for the rise in prices that has made cottage cheese “a status symbol,” in her words.