Netanyahu: If Livni elected Jews will need armored personnel to reach Western Wall
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chided Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni for claiming earlier this week that the Western Wall would remain forever in Israel’s hands, hinting that under her plans Jews would need armored personnel carriers to reach the site.
Speaking at the International Bible Contest for Adults in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said the spirit of the Maccabees is what brought the Jews back to Israel, allowed them to build and defend the land, and “gives us great strength to stand up against all challenges and rebuff all pressure.”
Netanyahu alluded to Livni and Labor Party chairman Isaac Herzog – who went to the Western Wall together on Sunday and vowed that it would remain under Israeli sovereignty forever – saying they were willing to give the Palestinians a capital in Jerusalem.
“I have heard someone say the wall will stay in our hands,” he said. “I want to ask you, how exactly will the wall remain in our hands – as an enclave inside Palestinian territory?”
And, Netanyahu said, “how exactly will we get to it? In convoys, by helicopter, perhaps in armored personnel carriers? We did not return to the Kotel after 2,000 years in order to reach it by armored personnel carriers.
On this day I say to you here, on the last night of Hanukka, that the Kotel will stay in our hands, and Jerusalem in its entirety will remain in our hands forever, under Israeli sovereignty.”
The Labor Party responded by saying that Netanyahu was once again cynically using Jerusalem for political gain.
The Likud later issued a statement challenging Herzog and Livni to tell the public whether, if they form the next government, they would agree to divide Jerusalem and make it the capital of the Palestinian state.
Netanyahu has made an effort to ensure that the campaign will focus on diplomatic and security issues, as he has in past elections. In past races, he has made an issue of Jerusalem’s fate.
In 1996, one of his slogans was that his opponent, then-Labor leader Shimon “Peres will divide Jerusalem.”
Ahead of the 2013 election, the Likud hoisted political banners on the Old City walls, photographed them, and then immediately removed them because political advertising is not allowed at the site.