Text size

Leader of the opposition Tzipi Livni launched a bristling personal attack on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from the Knesset podium yesterday, asking when he would "stop lying" and saying he could not be trusted.

The spat began when Netanyahu, speaking just before the Kadima chairwoman, scolded her for sending text messages during his speech. "I noticed that the entire time I was speaking, the leader of the opposition was looking at her cell phone, reading and replying," he said.

The prime minister also defended the referendum law passed by the Knesset last week and praised the cabinet's decision to allow the immigration of additional Falashmura to Israel.

"You were sitting in that room over there as finance minister when I was absorption minister," Livni told Netanyahu. "You said 'we can't bring the Falashmura,' and you hid behind my back. If I were you, I'd be quiet on the issue. When was the last time you told the truth? When is the last time you told the truth to yourself, to your ministers, to your voters?"

She also quoted former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who once said he didn't know whether to believe Netanyahu's left hand or his right hand.

"We saw an example yesterday," Livni said, referring to one the WikiLeaks cables revealed this week. "One single sentence that was published. Among other things, you said something in some closed room about territorial swaps. You are the only person I know whose single sentence gets interpreted in completely opposite ways by the two sides of this house."

Livni said the prime minister appeared to be almost glad the WikiLeaks documents were published when they were, "because perhaps this will absolve him of providing a solution to a basic Israeli interest: resolving the conflict."

Netanyahu, she added, fails to understand that "there's a unique opportunity now that would allow Arab states to support an arrangement to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For they, too, understand that Iran is exploiting it."

She also accused Netanyahu of being unfair to young Israelis. "If you know you're going to partition this country, how can you send a young couple to build a home somewhere they'll have to leave? How can you look them in the eye?"

Finally, she read the prime minister the text message she had received as he spoke, though warning him that he would "only get offended. Here is what the public thought about the shameful performance we saw here: He's nervous, he's weak."