Netanyahu in Knesset: We Will Defeat This Wave of Terror Like We Did the Others

'You have failed,' Herzog tells Netanyahu at the opening of the Knesset winter session. 'The despicable terrorists have raised their heads on your watch.'

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures during his speech at the opening of the Knesset winter session on Monday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures during his speech at the opening of the Knesset winter session on Monday.Credit: Lior Mizrahi
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

"We are a state of laws and we will bring to justice anyone – Jew or Arab – who raises a hand against us," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday during the opening of the Knesset's winter session.

Members of the Joint Arab List party walked out of the plenum when Netanyahu began speaking, while Meretz's MK Issawi Freij was ejected from the chamber after interrupting the prime minister's speech.

"Our enemies have not yet learned that terror won't defeat us," Netanyahu said. "Time after time, we are the ones who defeat them. And we will also come out of this wave of terror on top. What guides us is the understanding that our struggle is just."

"We have experienced attacks both before and after the establishment of the state; before the Six Day War and after it; when the peace process was in progress and when it stopped," the prime minister said.

"Terror is not a consequence of frustration at the lack of progress in the diplomatic process. It is clear that it comes from the desire to destroy us. That is the cause today as well."

Regarding the tension over the Temple Mount, Netanyahu said: "They are using mendacious propaganda about the Temple Mount to make trouble. There are those who say brazenly that Jews have no connection to the Temple Mount. It seems that it is possible to say anything. They say that the Jews defile the mount and repeat the lie that our intention is to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque or change the status quo – absolute lies.

"We are committed to maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount and we scrupulously maintain the holy places of all religions. Were it not for Israel, Muslim extremists would have destroyed the holy places, as they're doing throughout the Middle East. We are the ones defending the religious places of all religions in Jerusalem."

Netanyahu pointed a finger at the Palestinians and their president, Mahmoud Abbas, who he accused of encouraging the ongoing wave of terror by disseminating lies.

"It is very dangerous incitement, which takes a toll of human lives, and those spreading it are first and foremost Hamas and the Palestinian Authority," he said. "Unfortunately, they are not educating for peace but for the continuation of the conflict. They embed anti-Semitic incitement in school books, in the media and on social networks. Abu Mazen [Abbas] must denounce the incitement and the attacks, exactly as I denounced attacks by [Jewish] radicals."

"Just recently I called on Abu Mazen in my UN speech to sit with me and talk, but he continues to refuse," Netanyahu continued. "He will have to give up on the right of return and recognize Israel as the national state of the Jewish people. After all, he knows he will have to give us what he demands for his own people."

Netanyahu attacked the Arab United List for comments they have made recently. "We want coexistence and we invest in the Arab sector to an extent that previous governments haven't done – on a massive scale. But, to my sorrow, one of those sitting here [MK Basel Ghattas] said: 'The Henkin couple are settlers; you can't relate to them as innocent civilians.' What does that mean? That it's acceptable to murder them?

"Knesset member [Haneen] Zoabi didn't limit herself to settlers: she justifies all acts of terror. She told a Hamas publication in sorrow and worry that 'individual acts are not enough; a full intifada is needed.' That's unbelievable. A Knesset member in Israel calls for wholesale terror against Israeli citizens. Nothing is more just than opening a criminal investigation against her. Someone who calls for murder or justifies it doesn't deserve to sit in this chamber."

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog addressed his speech to "acting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and presumptive prime minister Naftali Bennett."

Netanyahu, he said, "claims to be managing the conflict. And Bennett? He says we need to live with the conflict like shrapnel in the backside. The conflict that you have been managing in recent years in your own way, according to your beliefs, has become a knife in the back of Israel's citizens. You have failed. The despicable terrorists have raised their heads on your watch. You [Netanyahu,] who has accused Livni and I of dividing Jerusalem, you are pulling it apart."

At the start of his speech, Herzog called for calm. "At this time, before we clash politically and swap harsh words, it is incumbent on us to raise a moral voice and demand of ourselves and from the nation, of all religions and groups – Jews and Arabs – to act responsibly and with maximum restraint," he said.

"We need to show leadership and not stand on the side. To decry all types of terror, bullying and racism. We were fated to be in this land, in this country, Jews and Arabs eternally."

Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman called on Monday for the overthrow of Abbas. "Suddenly, we put all our trust in Abu Mazen," he said during a meeting of his party caucus. "That's the greatest pity. He has refused to denounce the killing of Jews and only stuttered something recently. He rules the media with a heavy hand and all of a sudden he doesn't know how to control them. Hamas and the Islamic Jihad make conventional terror; Abu Mazen indulges in political terror."

"There is an urgent need to replace Abu Mazen," he added. "He is in power with our blessing. There are far better alternatives."

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