by Roni Sofer
Earlier this week, Netanyahu addressed the peace process during a Likud faction hearing at the Knesset. When asked about the possibility of the resumption of settlement construction freeze he replied there was no concrete US proposal and that the matter was on hold.
Prim Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended a special Knesset debate titled "The world against Israel – how the Netanyahu administration isolated the State of Israel in the international arena." A request to hold a discussion on the matter was signed by 40 Knesset members, including Amir Peretz, Eitan Cabel and Daniel Ben-Simon.
First to speak was MK Ronnie Bar-On (Kadima), who slammed Netanyahu. "Before you go off to a visit in the US you should sit down and read Thomas Friedman, the most prominent US commentator. Maybe this time the sound of danger suggested in his articles will sound clearer. In the first round he called our leadership 'drunk drivers.' In the second round, he claimed the cabinet was inhabited by lunatics. Friedman's words point to bad times of changes in Israel's relations with the US and it's not because of any particular president."
Bar-On repeated President Shimon Peres' statements calling for an immediate political decision. "Do you need a clearer warning sign? You know, it's never too late to fix things. Make a bold, uncompromising decision and go for it. We'll be there for you and for ourselves."
MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima) said, "You've been running the country for a year and eight months, what decision have you made except create one committee after the other. Shunning responsibility is not leadership; it's a weak, indulgent and irresponsible government."
Freeze on hold
Addressing the stalled peace talks with the Palestinians, Netanyahu said, "Rejecting Israel's right to exist certainly doesn't advance reconciliation between the nations and our desire to bring about a peace agreement. The Palestinians made an official commitment in this regard – as part of the Wye agreement and other agreements. I promise to discuss this commitment during the process, but for now I want the process to move forward without preconditions.
"If (the process) fails, it will be because the Palestinian Authority is trying to bypass the negotiations and move the process to the international track," he said.
As for the public uproar surrounding the yeshiva student bill, Netanyahu said, "We are doing exactly what has been done for the past 30 years. The haredim are part of our nation, and should be treated as such. This public should be encouraged to work."
Likud MK Ofir Akonis responded to the Kadima claims and said, "Your Alzheimer's is really advanced. You decided to take a cynical, political ride on the backs of Israeli students," he said. "Have you no shame – to insinuate that Israel is to blame for the Marmara flotilla?"
Akonis noted that substantial stipends were given to haredim during the Kadima administration and presented a newspaper with the title: "Livni to Shas: Receive NIS 1 billion (about $280 million)." He was then escorted from the podium by security guards for violating Knesset protocol. Later, Kadima's Yoel Hasson was also removed from the hall after verbally attacking MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu).
MK Nissim Zeev (Shas) addressed the Labor MKs and said: "You can’t crush the coalition from the inside because of problems with your party chairman. I have unresolved business with the defense minister. I think he made a fool of himself, with the Galant document, with his foreign worker…they caught the most dangerous terrorist in the world – Virginia."
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