Livni: Israel Must Maintain Itself as a Law-abiding State

Kadima party leader criticizes Netanyahu for not defending legal authorities, a day after the arrest of senior rabbi led to widespread protests by right-wing demonstrators.

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni attacked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday for not supporting law enforcement and justice officials, a day after Rabbi Dov Lior was arrested for incitement.

Speaking at the Jewish Agency conference in Jerusalem, Kadima party chairwoman Livni criticized Netanyahu for not addressing the issue during his speech earlier.

"How do you not defend the officials in the Justice Ministry who are working to uphold the law, while there is severe incitement against them from the outside?" Livni asked.

Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi Dov Lior, one of the senior figures of religious Zionism, was arrested Monday after he refused to appear for questioning for his endorsement of the controversial book, Torat Hamelech, which justifies killing non-Jews. After his arrest right-wing protesters tried to block the entrance to Jerusalem and rallied outside the Supreme Court.

"No one likes to see a rabbi arrested, including me," Livni said. "And I also don't like to see a prime minister under investigation or a president going to prison, but Israel must maintain itself as a law-abiding country where everyone is equal before the law."

"I expect the prime minister, the justice minister and the whole leadership to show the required courage, to put aside any political considerations and protect these people and these values," Livni continued. "The prime minister's silence at this time is unacceptable. I expect him and every one of us, for the right and from the left, to oppose this incitement and emphasize that Israel is a law-abiding state and that everyone, including rabbis, are subject to the law."

Tzipi Livni (Emil Salman)
Emil Salman

Livni also addressed the issue of the Gaza flotilla. "This is an attempt to harm Israel's legitimacy to defend itself," she said. "As the head of the opposition I will continue to defend Israel's right to defend itself, the right of IDF soldiers to act and Israel's right to continue to isolate Hamas and Gaza."