Netanyahu: This is a low point in history of State of Israel

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu this evening responded to the joint Abbas-Olmert press conference in New York by saying: “Gantz has no government without Ahmad Tibi, and Ahmed Tibi will do whatever Abbas tells him as he now meets with Gantz’s advisor and close friend – Ehud Olmert.

“This is a low point in the history of the State of Israel. Gantz succumbs to all the dictates of the Joint Arab List – he can’t be the Israeli prime minister!”

Abbas met with Olmert just hours after his speech in the Security Council on President Trump’s Mideast initiative, in which he presented the map published by U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan and called it “Swiss cheese”. At the end of his speech, he said: “I am striving for peace with every Israeli leader who comes. We will not resort to violence.”

In an interview at the Ynet studio earlier this week, Olmert responded to criticism of his planned meeting with Abbas, saying: “He’s the only partner we have for peace. There’s no reason in the world not to meet him.” In that interview, he called Netanyahu “a distressed crook, the head of a crime gang.”

At Likud conferences this week, Netanyahu called on Gantz to “disengage from Olmert.” According to the Likud Chairman, “Olmert offered Abbas the Western Wall, offered him control of the Temple Mount. He’s now gone to Abbas to thwart the Plan of the Century and I say to Benny Gantz – is that your closest advisor?’

In the interview, Olmert said: “I am not a Gantz consultant.”

Ambassador Danny Danon said in response to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s meeting with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas: “On the same day that Abbas failed in his attempt to condemn the U.S. and Israel in the Security Council here at the UN, Mr. Olmert is endorsing Abbas. He is endorsing diplomatic terrorism against Israel. It is shameful.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu called the meeting “a low point in the history of the State of Israel, saying: “Gantz has no government without Ahmad Tibi, and Ahmed Tibi will do whatever Abbas tells him as he now meets with Gantz’s advisor and close friend – Ehud Olmert.

“This is a low point in the history of the State of Israel. Gantz succumbs to all the dictates of the Joint Arab List – he can’t be the Israeli prime minister!”

Abbas met with Olmert just hours after his speech in the Security Council on President Trump’s Mideast initiative, in which he presented the map published by U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan and called it “Swiss cheese”. At the end of his speech, he said: “I am striving for peace with every Israeli leader who comes. We will not resort to violence.”

In an interview at the Ynet studio earlier this week, Olmert responded to criticism of his planned meeting with Abbas, saying: “He’s the only partner we have for peace. There’s no reason in the world not to meet him.” In that interview, he called Netanyahu “a distressed crook, the head of a crime gang.”

At Likud conferences this week, Netanyahu called on Gantz to “disengage from Olmert.” According to the Likud Chairman, “Olmert offered Abbas the Western Wall, offered him control of the Temple Mount. He’s now gone to Abbas to thwart the Plan of the Century and I say to Benny Gantz – is that your closest advisor?’

In the interview, Olmert said: “I am not a Gantz consultant.”

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) has said that Blue and White leaders MKs Benny Gantz and Moshe Ya’alon have opposed a military operation to crush Hamas in Gaza.

In an interview with 103 FM Radio, Steinitz said, “We are trying to reach an agreement without fighting in Gaza and without conducting a military operation to take over Gaza.” He said, however, that he had not heard of Hamas’ reported decision to end the “balloon terrorism” in which incendiary balloons and balloons attached to explosive devices are sent into Israeli territory, in exchange for a relaxation of security policies.

“This report from Al-Quds newspaper seems like a media balloon in itself,” Steinitz said. “I know one thing, that we are trying, and [Israeli Prime Minister] Binyamin Netanyahu has succeeded for 10 and a half years, to achieve our security goals in the north and south.”

“I see that as praiseworthy. I remember how, during [former Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert’s time, we got caught up in a war that lasted 3-4 months and we had 150-160 people killed in the Second Lebanon War. The fact that we are stopping the Iranians in Syria, preventing the Iranian nuclear bomb, preventing Hamas from gaining power in Gaza, preventing Lebanon from developing precise missiles with our hundreds of thousands of actions, without being dragged into an all-out war, is in my eyes a major win and diplomatic-security achievement for Binyamin Netanyahu.”

He added that “it’s obvious that in ten years [under Netanyahu] there have been more rockets than in three years [under Olmert]. We know that Palestinian terror is always trying to arm itself, but that’s not the proper comparison. The proper comparison is that we’ve been preventing Iran from creating a second Iran and a second Hezbollah in Lebanon, we’ve been preventing Iran from developing a nuclear bomb. We’re doing this with great wisdom, with truly outstanding diplomatic achievements.”

“Hamas isn’t shooting at us like they want to, and since the elimination of Islamic Jihad leader Baha Abu al-Atta we’re seeing not complete quiet, but a definite reduction in the level of fire.”

However, Steinitz emphasized that if Israel wants lasting quiet – forever or for many years – it will come with a price.

“If we really want to force quiet, and we have the power to do that, to put an end to this, a complete end either forever or at least for many years – it will require taking over and conquering Gaza, at least in a temporary sense, and eliminating the Hamas regime,” he explained.

When asked why Netanyahu did not put an end to the terror in 2009, like he promised, Steinitz said: “In 2014, during the peak of Operation Protective Edge, I and others demanded then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and then-IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz present their full plan to take over Gaza and eliminate the Hamas leadership. Benny Gantz warned the Cabinet, in the name of the IDF, that it will cost 500 lives and that we must not do such a thing.”

“The Defense Minister and the IDF Chief of Staff, in the name of the entire IDF, came and opposed the idea strongly. Benny Gantz was strongly opposed to an operation to retake Gaza and defeat Hamas – and it’s very difficult to force a decision otherwise.”

Steinitz also emphasized that the number of people killed and injured in terror attacks during Netanyahu’s time in office is the lowest in Israel’s history.”It’s true that we haven’t reached real peace, but in a relative sense, the number of those killed and injured from terror during the past decade under Netanyahu is the lowest in Israel’s history, and because of that, what we have now is preferable to any other government.”

“At any rate, if you want to claim that the security situation in the south isn’t perfect and we haven’t reached the days of the Messiah – I agree with you. But if you want to ignore the fact that in the last ten years under Netanyahu and the Likud there have been the fewest people injured by terror…

He concluded: “I want you and the media, as you try to taunt Netanyahu and the Likud over what’s happening in the south, to say: ‘But we need to be honest and note that the number of people killed in and injured from terror under Netanyahu, in the past ten years, is the lowest in Israel’s history.”

The right-wing Otzma Yehudit party claims that it has cut a deal with the Likud to help the faction cross the electoral threshold in next month’s election, after failing to enter the Knesset in the previous election.

On Wednesday, Yediot Aharonot reported that Otzma chief, attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir, has been in talks with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for an arrangement that would give Otzma Yehudit a chance of crossing the electoral threshold in the March 2nd election.

According to the report, Ben-Gvir has requested that Netanyahu press rabbis in the National Religious sector who privately support Otzma to publically endorse them, shifting thousands of votes to the faction.

In addition, the two sides discussed the possibility of Netanyahu convincing some Hasidic movements aligned with the United Torah Judaism movement to instruct their followers to vote for Otzma, in exchange for some benefits to UTJ in the next government.

In exchange for the Likud’s help, Netanyahu reportedly demanded that if Otzma Yehudit still fails to cross the electoral threshold, it agree not to run again if Israel heads to a fourth election.

Later on Wednesday, Ben-Gvir claimed in an interview with Kan that a deal had been reached with the Likud.

But the Likud quickly denied Ben-Gvir’s claims, and said Otzma Yehudit’s candidacy endangers the right-wing bloc.

“Falsehood and lies,” the Likud said in a statement. “There is no deal with Ben-Gvir, and a vote for Otzma Yehudit and Ben-Gvir puts a right-wing victory in peril.”

Otzma Yehudit, which ran as part of the Union of Right Wing Parties list in April 2019, ran independently in the September election, and received 83,609, or about 1.88% of the total vote, far short of the 3.25%, or about 144,500 votes, needed to enter the Knesset.

Recent polls show the party receiving between 1.0% to 2.8% of the vote – still well below the electoral threshold.

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