As expected, the security situation dominated the opening of the Knesset winter session on Monday, during which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the nation that it will prevail.
“After 100 years of terrorism and 100 years of attempts to destroy [us], our enemies still have not learned,” he said. “Suicide terrorism was not victorious over us in the 90s and 00s, and the terrorism of knives will not be victorious over us now.”
As he has done repeatedly in recent weeks, Netanyahu again rejected as “a total lie” the allegations, put out by Hamas, the Islamic Movement and the Palestinian Authority, that Israel threatens al-Aksa mosque. He called on PA President Mahmoud Abbas to denounce terrorism as he has condemned hate crimes committed by Israelis against Arabs.
Netanyahu spoke also of the troubled relations with Israeli Arabs and their leaders.
“We want coexistence, and we are investing in the Arab sector as no government has before, but there is a member of this house who said ‘the Henkin family [killed by Palestinians in front of their two children] are settlers. You cannot treat them as innocent civilians.’ What does that mean? That you’re allowed to murder them?” Netanyahu asked, referring to MK Bassel Ghattas (Joint List).
However, by that time, Ghattas and other Arab MKs had staged a walkout and were not present for the prime minister’s words.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog appealed for tolerance and respect.
“We are destined to live together in this country, Jews and Arabs together. We are fated to respect one another, despite the difficult reality,” Herzog said, and demanded that MKs stop inciting and that they condemn anyone who raises a knife or a stone against a Jew or anyone who hurts an Arab just for being an Arab.
And, as he has done at every opportunity since losing the last elections, Herzog blamed Netanyahu for the nation’s problems, this time for allowing terrorism to go on the rampage. “Yerushalayim is being divided on your watch,” he said.
Referring to an invitation issued by Netanyahu last Thursday to join a unity government to combat the crisis, Herzog said no.
“We are all united in the fight against terrorism, but that is not a reason to join a failing government,” he told the Knesset.