The Knesset on Tuesday held a special plenary sitting honoring the memory of Tourism Minister and MK Rechavam ”Gandhi” Ze`evi, on the occasion of the 14th anniversary of his assassination.
”At a time when it sometimes appeared that being `patriotic` was almost outside the legitimate discourse, `Gandhi` was one, in all 248 of his organs,” Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein (Likud) said. ”He led soldiers and commanders in battlefields, from his days in the Palmach to the time he held senior command positions in the IDF.”
Addressing the wave of terror attacks in Israel, Edelstein said ”the blood-thirsty terrorists, our haters, do not rest. Lately, including today, they went wild in our streets, injured and murdered indiscriminately… Many citizens have been calling out for days and weeks, since the terror wave began, that the time has come to act.”
”This is a decisive moment for Israel. This is a time to put all of our differences aside. It is a time for all of us to unite in the face of terror. This is a time to stand as a strong united front,” Edelstein said. ”Therefore, I call on all of you in this House, and on the leadership in Israel and all those who the future and resilience of Israel are important and dear to them, to get up and join the government. This is a time for a unity government. This is not a time for petty score-settling, nor is it a time for games of honor or seats. I have no doubt that the majority of the public is watching us with awe and concern, expecting us to display maturity and responsibility, and to abandon the daily score-settling – because this is a time of emergency.”
”In light of the despicable attacks – there are no camps. In the face of a murderous enemy, who wants only to weaken us and make us disappear from here – there are no parties and there is no factionalism,” the Knesset Speaker told the Plenum.
Edelstein said Ze`evi had ”strong opinions,” but, to his knowledge, was not a racist, as some people claimed. ”Gandhi did not hate Arabs, and he did not wish to discriminate against them; he only wanted to strengthen the Jewish nation`s hold on its land,” said the Knesset Speaker.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) also addressed the Plenum: ”This session is taking place in the midst of a wave of terror; the same terror which targeted Gandhi 14 years ago,” he said, adding that the Security Cabinet would decide later tonight on a series of ”aggressive measures that will be implemented on the ground as quickly as possible.”
”Israel will settle the score with the murderers, with those who attempt to murder and with all those who assist them,” he said. ”We will not only revoke their rights, but we will collect from them the full cost. We will use all the means to return the calm to the citizens of Israel,” Netanyahu stated.
In his speech, the Israeli premier called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to ”stop lying.”
”You must stop the incitement and fight the extremists who are causing innocent people to pay a dear price,” he told Abbas.
Addressing the Palestinians, he said ”A youth who tried to murder becomes a martyr… Don`t turn murderers into heroes.”
Netanyahu told the Palestinians that ”you will bear responsibility” if ”the deterioration in the security situation comes about as a result of incitement.”
”To Israel`s Arabs I say, don`t be deceived by inciters who want to ignite the country,” the PM said, adding that Arab leaders ”must find the courage to stand up against the extremists.”
Israel is a country that is governed by law, Netanyahu stated, ”and whoever takes the law into his own hands will pay the price.”
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Camp) said ”I did not agree with Gandhi`s viewpoint regarding the country`s Arabs, but I will always respect him, not only as a brother in arms of my father Chaim Herzog of blessed memory, but also because he was an honest leader whose pillar of fire was the good of Israel.”
Addressing the wave of terror, MK Herzog said, ”Particularly in such difficult times, we must not lose our humanity or abandon our basic principles – which were set in our Declaration of Independence – as a democracy that respects the minorities within it with full equality.”
Turning to PM Netanyahu, the opposition leader said ”we will back every security measure that you will initiate and lead, without hesitation, in order to immediately return security to the country and its citizens; this includes measures that I have been proposing for the past few days – a closure that will focus first and foremost on east Jerusalem, the expanded deployment of forces, the call-up of reservists as needed, and an uncompromising war (…) at the sites of Islamic incitement, because we will never serve as an opposition to the nation of Israel and its security.”
”The terror which murdered Gandhi is still here, targeting the citizens of Israel. Stabbing, hurting, murdering. We have known severe waves of terror; we have known great pain, and we triumphed over them. We will do so again this time around,” Herzog declared.