News / Middle East

    Netanyahu Takes on the World in Israeli Election Campaign

    Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands next to a free-electron laser (FEL) during a visit to the Ariel University Center in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ariel, January 8, 2013.
    Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands next to a free-electron laser (FEL) during a visit to the Ariel University Center in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ariel, January 8, 2013.
    Reuters
    It's Bibi against the world on a campaign trail that took the combative Israeli prime minister to a Jewish settlement on Tuesday.
     
    Enjoying a wide opinion poll lead before a Jan. 22 election, Benjamin Netanyahu has been lecturing the international community - vocal in its criticism of settlement expansion on occupied territory and his hints of military action against Iran - about what it should really be worried about.
     
    The right-wing candidate, known by his childhood nickname "Bibi", has been striving in campaign appearances to strike a common chord in a country where a song titled, "The whole world is against us", was once a hit.
     
    "The great danger to the world is not from Jews building in our ancestral capital in Jerusalem, it's from nuclear weapons in Iran," Netanyahu said on Monday in a speech in the holy city, to which both Israel and the Palestinians stake claims.
     
    A day later, he travelled to Ariel, a major Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, where his government's granting of university status to a college last month drew international condemnation.
     
    Tweaking his message to match the locality, Netanyahu said, "The danger to the world is not from the university in Ariel or Israeli construction in the neighborhoods of Jerusalem. The danger comes from Iran, which is building nuclear weapons."
     
    Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful energy only. Netanyahu has long been at odds with even Israel's closest Western allies over settlement building in the West Bank, territory captured in a 1967 war that Palestinians seek as part of a future state.
     
    His tough talk on Iran, hinting heavily that Israel might attack its nuclear facilities unilaterally unless international sanctions persuade Tehran to halt uranium enrichment, has raised the alarm in world capitals.
     
    Chemical weapons
     
    The civil war in nearby Syria and Israeli fears that Syrian chemical weapons could fall into the hands of Islamist rebels also figure high on Netanyahu's campaign list of eye-openers for foreign leaders.
     
    "I call on the world to wake up. History will judge severely those who equate democratic Israel, which is establishing a university [in Ariel], to those tyrannical regimes slaughtering their countrymen and possessing weapons of mass destruction," he said during his visit to the settlement.
     
    Running under the campaign slogan, "A strong prime minister, a strong Israel", Netanyahu's Likud party, allied in the election with the ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu faction, has lost some ground to a start-up far-right party led by high-tech millionaire Naftali Bennett.
     
    But opinion polls still count Netanyahu as a shoo-in to enlist right-wing parties after the vote and form the next coalition government. In Israel, no single party has ever won a parliamentary majority.
     
    Bennett, a former settler leader, opposes a Palestinian state and wants to annex about 60 percent of the West Bank.
     
    Netanyahu is still formally committed to the establishment of a Palestinian state as part of a peace deal with Israel, while raising conditions - many of them already rejected by the Palestinians - for its creation.
     
    But he has been making clear to voters that he intends to plough ahead with settlement construction, suggesting it is a sacred duty.
     
    "We remain loyal to our homeland will continue to protect our citizens, develop our country and build in our land," Netanyahu said in Ariel. "With God's help, we will build and we will succeed."

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Mike from: VA
    January 09, 2013 11:23 PM
    Who else would vote for Netanyahu?, His supporters are the descendants of the vagabonds who roamed the world in the previous centuries, before coming to steal the Palestinian lands and create their own state on the ruins and the sufferings of millions - the Palestinians who were forced to leave their homeland in 1948. and i can say safely, that according to the UN figures there are more than seven million Palestinian refugees s scattered allover the middle East and the world. God bless the ignorant of the geography and the recent history of the Middle East.

    by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
    January 09, 2013 9:22 PM
    This article totally misrepresents the situation. Mr. Netanyahu has stated he is clearly for a peaceful resolution. Past Israeli gvmts have made concesssions, and shown tremendous flexibility. The biggest concession made was the withdrawl from Gaza. That withdrawl has caused nothing but grief. Since the withdrawl over 24000 projectiles were fired, indiscriminately, falling on civilian population centres. One defensive war, and one defensive operation, were triggered by the indicriminate firing against the civilian population of Southern Israel. Each time, Israel waited for weeks before undertaking defensive action against those firing from Gaza. Just before Cast Lead, the first major offensive to stop the indiscriminate bombardment, near 1/4 of the Israeli defence forces were stationed at the Gaza perimeter, on the Israeli side. The army was in full view of Gaza, yet they continued to fire and target civilian areas in Southern Israel, but not Israeli forces in full view. No nation would allow 18000- 22000 projectiles being fired at its military, never mind at its civilian centres. The sad and shameful part, is that as long as Israeli civilians where being bombarded, the world was silent. As soon as Israel started defending itself, Israel was criticized by nations, that themselves have been at various wars, and used their most formidable weapons to attack their enemies; and I must say, notwithstanding the formidable weapons, they did not win those wars. The second recent operation, once again was triggered by sustained indiscriminate firing/bombardments from Gaza. After 3 weeks, and a mostly silent world as Israeli civilian areas were bombarded, Israel started its defensive operation. Once again, many nations that had been silent started to criticize Israel. A state not only should protect its citizens, against agression, but it has a duty to do so. For years the Palestinian side has dragged their feet on the peace process, it is one demand after another. The most basic of issues, recognizing the right of Jews to live in/over/on their acncestral lands has not been agreed to. Over 2 million Muslims live in Israel and are Israeli citizens. Nearly 2 million Jews use to live in Muslim countries, now there are less than 100,000.; and those in most cases, due to security issues, live very isolated lives; in Gaza no Jews live. The settlements are not an issue, because the full expectation is that in a two state solution Jews, as Muslims do in Israel, will have full rights to continue living in peace on/in/over their ancestral lands. The expectation is that when a final agreement is made, no ethnic cleansing of Jews or Christians, or... should take place. Unfortunately, international leaders, pushing the two state solution have failed to address or deal with the expectation that Israel and the future Palestinian state will be multi-ethnic, and Jews will be allowed to leave in peace, security, safety, and have all the rights of citizenship in the new Palestinian state, as do Muslims in the Jewish state of Israel. So stop alluding Israel, its PM and its citizens as to not wanting peace; what they do not want/fear is a biased, and unjust agreements.

    by: Herman from: UK
    January 09, 2013 2:10 PM
    "Inclusion...??" have you read the PLO - Fatah - Hamas manifestos...??? take a look... they are in English!!! hey Arabs are Arabs - and there is no difference between Egyptians, Syrians, Jordanians, "Palestinians", Saudis, Iraqis... we gave them different names for colonial administrative conveniences, they are not different peoples...

    by: Michael from: USA
    January 09, 2013 10:11 AM
    Israel is courageous but when Mr Netanyahu refers to "Our homeland" the entire cake melts because Israel shows only awareness of selection, not inclusion

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