Daily Israel Report

Bibi Talks Tough Amid Rocket Fire

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu opened the Knesset talking tough and saying Israel's strategic posture required an offensive component.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 10/31/2011, 6:56 PM

Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin Netanyahu
Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the opening session of the Knesset on Monday said Israel must restore its deterrence.

"Our security strategy cannot only rely on defense, but must have an offensive element maintains Israel's deterrence," Netanyahu said amid a sharp escalation of rocket fire from Gaza.

The amplified bombardment of Israel's Gaza-belt communities comes in the wake of his government's controversial deal to release 1,027 security prisoners - some 450 of them terrorists - for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. 

"Two principles must guide us," Netanyahu said, citing Talmudic dictums. "One, 'If someone comes to kill, you rise up and kill him first.' And, 'He who harms us, his blood is on his own head.'"

"For 2,000 years our people could not sustain these two principles in order to defend themselves, but that reality changed with the reemergence of Israel and the founding of the IDF," Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu has yet to react to widespread calls from Israeli lawmakers, senior officials, and security experts - including three former IDF chief's of staff - calling for a major counter-terror operation in Gaza.

"Reality often sets before us opportunities we don't perceive. Israel is becoming a rising power in cutting edge military technology and cyber warfare. Israel's special talent in this area leads large and important countries to seek cooperative efforts with us. This is the future, and we are already there," Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu also addressed moribund talks with Palestinian Authority officials, "In the Middle East peace is made with strong, not the weak. The stronger Israel is, the closer peace will be. We are prepared to compromise, but we are not prepared to compromise our security."

Critics, however, say the policies of the Netanyahu government are responsible for Israel's present nadir in deterrence, noting that the enemies of the Jewish state have declared victory over Israel in the wake of the Shalit deal.

They also say actively destroying Jewish communities in 'disputed territories' before an agreement is made has led PA officials to become intransigent in the knowledge they can incrementally achieve their aims without compromise.

"The United States stands with us in the struggle against the Palestinians," Netanyahu said, referring to US President Barack Obama's promised veto for the PA statehood bid at the United Nations.

"This is seen in our experience in the UN, and we appreciate it very much. I know there were those who doubted strength of our alliance based on shared values ​​and common goals. The United States sees great importance in helping maintain our agreements with Egypt and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan," Netanyahu added.

But opposition MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) has charged Obama is holding Netanyahu “at gunpoint” – the gun being his administration's threat to renege on its promised to veto.

Specifically, Obama has demanded that Netanyahu and Israel’s supporters in the United States pressure Congress to abort two pending resolutions to penalize the Palestinian Authority (PA) if it pursues its bid, Eldad claimed.

One would shut off U.S. aid funds to the Palestinians and a second would support Israel’s right to annex the West Bank. The legal basis for these actions is that the unilateral statehood request violates the 1993 Oslo Accords, which the US is a signatory to.

For his part, Obama told the United Nations in September, "The Palestinaians deserve a state."