Knesset Member Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud), leader of the parliamentary opposition, sharply attacked the coalition parties Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu in his speech at the
"What are you doing in this government?" - MK Netanyahu to Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu
opening of the Knesset's winter session on Monday.
"What are you doing in this government?" he asked. "Do you really agree to let Hamas rule neighborhoods in Jerusalem?" Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's plan to give the Palestinian Authority a state in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and much of Jerusalem is a danger to Israel, he said, "and you are not preventing the danger by sitting in the government. To the contrary - you are giving it legitimacy and allowing it to happen."
Giving further territory to the PA would endanger cities within Israel's pre-1967 borders, Netanyahu said. If the PA is given control of Judea and Samaria, he warned, then it will lead to Hamas rocket fire on Tel Aviv. The hills in those regions overlook major Israeli cities such as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Netanya, Ra'anana and Kfar Saba, the opposition leader noted.
In a candid analysis offered at a meeting of his Likud party Knesset faction on Monday afternoon, Netanyahu charged, "It is clear that the government intends to take extreme steps and push Israel back to the 1967 borders and divide Jerusalem."
The Iranian Threat
Despite differences over other policy issues, Netanyahu told the Knesset plenum, the opposition and the coalition are united in confronting the nuclear threat from Iran.
At the same time, Netanyahu said the government was undermining its own struggle with Iran by allowing the Islamic Republic to gain a foothold in Israel through the creation of a Palestinian state. He warned that the experience in Gaza, in which Iranian-backed Islamists gained complete control, is sure to repeat itself in any other territories relinquished to PA control.
MK Netanyahu went on to quote statements made by Olmert ahead of the Gaza Disengagement in which he promised industrial parks in Gaza and a harsh Israeli response if the terrorism from Gaza continued after Jewish communities were evacuated and destroyed. He also quoted Defense Minister Ehud Barak from Barak's days as Prime Minister before the IDF withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000. At the time, Barak
Opposition and coalition are united in confronting the nuclear threat from Iran.
also vowed that the Israeli response to continuing terror after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon would be harsh and uncompromising. Netanyahu, who is a former Prime Minister himself, said that such statements, left unfulfilled, have led to a weakening of Israeli deterrence in the face of terrorism.
Similarly, Netanyahu said, promises that the Arab-Israeli conflict can be moderated by turning over sovereignty in parts of Jerusalem are lies. Such moves will only encourage the terrorists, he warned.
"Extracting our forces from Jerusalem," MK Netanyahu said, "will make Jerusalem a place of pilgrimage for all the world's terrorists, including those of Al-Qaeda. ...One doesn't need a great imagination to think of what those global terrorists will do from this place."
The Likud Peace Plan
MK Binyamin Netanyahu then described what his party, the Likud, proposes as central parameters of a national peace plan: defensible permanent frontiers, including the Jordan River as Israel's eastern border; Israeli sovereignty over a united Jerusalem; collaboration with Jordan and Egypt in the final status agreements; dissolution of PA terrorist organizations;
Netanyahu then described what his party, the Likud, proposes.
rehabilitation of PA refugee camps; and a decision not to allow even a single Arab "refugee" to enter Israel.
"We want to make peace only with a true partner," Netanyahu said. Later on in his remarks, he added, "There is only one problem, Abu Mazen is not [Egyptian President Anwar] Sadat, he is only a partner for talking." At this stage, according to Netanyahu, it is the PA's turn to prove its good intentions, especially after Israel has done so much for the sake of peace.
Time to Go
MK Netanyahu ended his speech on Monday by calling for fresh elections: "After 2,000 years of exile, we liberated our cities in a process in which we sacrificed the best of our sons out of a faith in the justness of our cause. If the government does not believe in the justness of our cause, then it must return its mandate to the people and announce new elections."
Critics of Netanyahu noted that, much like Shas today, the Likud chairman himself remained in the Sharon government even as it planned the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria. He did not resign, despite his frequent vocal criticisms of then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plans, until the phase at which the Disengagement could no longer be prevented by political action.