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Knesset Speaker:For Olmert, Achieving Power Justifies All Means

Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin, perceived as the elder statesman of the Likud - at 66, the party's oldest Knesset candidate - has come out with a resounding attack against Ehud Olmert's political path.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 2/20/2006, 8:25 AM / Last Update: 2/20/2006, 8:59 AM

Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu convened a large morale-rousing gathering of Likud activists in Tel Aviv last night. The participants included chapter heads and leading players in the Likud campaign from all over the country.

A letter by Ruby Rivlin was read aloud:
"Are we facing retreats, concessions, collapse and disengagement from all the values on which we have been raised and educated? Or will we succeed in awakening the public and uncovering the true face of Olmert?"

Olmert, Rivlin continued, "is a man who has proven that everything is justified in order to attain power. He is a man 'who has no god,' a man who has left our camp many times and then returned whenever the regime fell and provided him with new opportunities. We must remind the public how dangerous it would be to abandon the leadership of the country to his hands."

"In the few weeks in which he has been in power," Rivlin wrote about Olmert, "he has already managed to crumble... He disseminates promises and illusions. Can a person like that be believed?"

Netanyahu, in his speech, emphasized the genuine threat posed by the Hamas takeover of the Palestinian Authority. "We won't whitewash it," he said. "Hamas is part of the Islamic movement, whose primary goal is the destruction of Israel [which is then to lead] to the liquidation of the entire West."

"Kadima says that we are detached from reality. We!? The one who is detached from reality is the one who just a few weeks ago gave 240 million shekels to Hamas... Olmert's policy is one of downfall, weakness and hesitation."

Netanyahu outlined the Likud's three-fold plan vis-a-vis the Hamas threat:
"We will activate the IDF defensively, offensively, and deterrently... The United States [will act] against the countries that give money to Hamas, and we will demand that the PA be listed as a terrorist authority. We will create an economic defensive wall, and we will not allow money to be transferred or workers to enter."

In answer to a question this morning, Netanyahu explained that withholding money to the Hamas Authority would not lead to starvation: "The money was destined for terrorist causes, not for food," Netanyahu said.

Labor's Amir Peretz, too, attacked Kadima today. "The main issue," he said, "is the way in which Olmert has difficulty in making decisions, and the great confusion that is found within the team that is today leading Israeli policy-making."