PM Slams Breaking the Silence

LONDON - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday lashed out against Breaking the Silence, an Israeli organization that collects testimonies from Israel Defense Forces soldiers about alleged abuse of Palestinians in the territories.

Netanyahu's statement came shortly after his meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose government had contributed funding for the group. Netanyahu said he expected foreign governments to stop assisting such organizations. "They are breaking the silence regarding the only democracy in the Middle East with an independent judiciary and investigative media, which deals with these matters continually," Netanyahu said. "They should break the silence in places where there is silence, like in the Hamas regime in Gaza."

Netanyahu also addressed the lawsuits filed in Britain against Israeli officers and senior officials for alleged war crimes, over their actions in the territories. Netanyahu said Israel was acting in self-defense, and Israeli officers should not be accused of crimes, just as British officers should not be subject to lawsuits for their actions in Afghanistan or Iraq.

When Netanyahu asked Brown to promote legislation to prevent such suits, Brown said he would see what could be done. Netanyahu also asked Brown to have his cabinet publicly denounce attempts to impose an academic and economic boycott on Israel.