Knesset members convened on Monday to discuss the wave of murders in Arab society. The debate initiated by the opposition dealt with "deterioration in personal security and the government's incompetence in the face of a doubling of murders in Arab society," in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listened to the speeches of Knesset members for an hour and only afterwards spoke.
Netanyahu invited all the Arab MKs to a meeting with him to discuss the problem of violence in Arab society. "I heard the cries of truth from Knesset members, I am not saying this in order to do my duty," he said in his speech. "I've also heard things that have changed over the years. I say this because I worked in the governments under my leadership to establish nine police stations. The problem you describe is a real problem. I say this not in defiance, but there hasn't been a consensus in the past, like increased police presence and gun collection." After inviting the Knesset members, he stressed, "This is not a drill, it comes from the bottom of my heart and it is out of an understanding that I am the prime minister of all citizens of Israel and I want your help and cooperation and I look forward to this meeting."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the debate this evening (Photo: Knesset Spokesperson, Noam Moshkovitz)
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After that, Netanyahu continued to talk about the protest against the government, which caused an uproar in the plenum. Referring to the demonstrators' behavior against coalition members, he called it "terrible attacks": "What racism, arrogance and violence, all in the name of democracy and the rule of law and freedom of speech and human rights. Don't try to make false symmetry because there isn't. I tell you, leaders of the opposition, zero condemnation of you and you remain silent. Why don't you defend? Is everything allowed? It's not in the name of democracy, it's not in the name of the rule of law and not for pluralism, but for one thing – the overthrow of the government."
During the speech, MK Ahmad Tibi approached Netanyahu's podium and told him, "You started well and heard our cry, we are talking about blood spilled in the streets every minute. This is no time for wrangling at this time." Netanyahu replied, "Because there was an argument in front of me, so I answer that." Tibi remarked that this is not the time, and the prime minister said, "So make sure others don't argue if it's not the time."
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Opposition Leader Yair Lapid (Photo: Knesset Spokesperson, Noam Moshkovitz)
He was followed by opposition leader Yair Lapid who also attacked Netanyahu. "I suggest that next time, between calling for the unity of the people and saying that you are everyone's prime minister, until the moment you start inciting, take a minute and then do everything you have been doing all your life, incite." Lapid also addressed the allegations of incitement against coalition members. "I hear your speech and ask myself, don't you really live here? Are you talking about incitement? Where were you when they sent a pistol bullet to Bennett's son and wife or waited for Silman near the house?" "Are you talking about persecution of Knesset members? Don't you know what happened near Nir Orbach's house? What have you done for a year and a half other than incite with violence and wickedness?"
Finally, Lapid concluded, "Stop crushing the country. There is a limit to ridicule and contempt when we gather to discuss the deaths of Israeli civilians, and the government should have protected them, but is not doing it for a moment."
- Benjamin Netanyahu
- Yair Lapid
- Arab society