Netanyahu Blames 'First Israeli-Palestinian Government' for Recent Attacks

The former prime minister also criticized the government's position on Iran nuclear talks, saying its 'weakness' was being observed by Iran

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Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a Likud party faction meeting, last month.
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a Likud party faction meeting, last month.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.
Sam Sokol

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu argued on Sunday that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government is at fault for a recent spate of violent attacks by Palestinians, blaming the government's “weakness.”

Over the course of the past several weeks there have been several fatal or near-fatal incidents, after a time of relative calm.

The former prime minister told his Likud party during its weekly Knesset faction meeting that the latest violence had been all but invited by what he called the “first Israeli-Palestinian government,” in an apparent reference to the presence of the Islamist United Arab List in the governing coalition.

“As we have warned, because of the weakness of the government, we are witnessing an increase in the number of terrorist attacks and criminal acts in the Arab sector,” he said. When terrorists “see this weakness they raise their heads,” Netanyahu added.

Before the United Arab List threw its weight behind the Bennett-Lapid coalition, Netanyahu's Likud had also been in negotiations with it following Israel's latest election in March.

Two weeks ago Eliyahu David Kay, a 25-year-old immigrant from South Africa, was killed when a Palestinian gunman opened fire at passersby in Jerusalem’s Old City. Four others were injured before the assailant, 42-year-old Fadi Abu Shkhaidem, a Hamas member from East Jerusalem, was shot dead by security forces.

On Saturday a Palestinian man was shot dead by Israeli forces in Jerusalem, after a suspected stabbing attack in the Old City that left an Israeli man wounded. Video from the scene showed police shooting the suspect after he was already on the ground, garnering protests from Palestinians and left-wing Knesset members. The officers involved said that they had been worried the assailant was wearing an explosive belt or would try to stab them too.

On Monday, a Palestinian teen rammed a car into a military checkpoint in the West Bank, moderately wounding an Israeli security guard before being shot dead.

Following the ramming, Defense Minister Benny Gantz ordered stepped up security at West Bank checkpoints. He also commended the security guards for their quick response and wished the injured guard a speedy recovery.

Despite his criticism, Netanyahu’s time as prime minister was not free from Palestinian violence. 2015 saw a series of lone wolf attacks dubbed by some the “stabbing intifada,” while this spring’s fighting between Israel and Hamas featured a series of violent clashes between Arabs and Jews which led to multiple fatalities.

During his remarks on Monday, Netanyahu also stated that the Bennett government’s “weakness” was being observed by Iran, and that “everyone knows that a helpless government is in place here.”

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Knesset, last month.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

“The only agreement that can be reached is an agreement that dismantles Iran's nuclear capabilities,” Netanyahu said, in an apparent denunciation of Bennett’s attempt to collaborate with Washington on the Iranian nuclear issue.

“In the absence of such an agreement, Israel must be prepared to act independently against the Iranian nuclear program. Independently means even without advance notice - and with surprises. If the United States is not willing to pose a real military threat to Iran, Israel must do so,” he said.

Bennett has ramped up his rhetoric regarding Iran in recent days, stating that Tehran “must start paying a price for its violations” and declaring that Israel “won't be bound” by any future deal.

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