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Netanyahu: Israelis will not be tried for war crimes

Oct. 12, 2009 6:16 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 13, 2009 3:59 P.M.)
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Monday never to allow Israeli officials or soldiers to be tried for war crimes.

"We will not let Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni and Ehud Barak, who sent our sons to war, reach the Hague International Criminal Court,” said Netanyahu, referring to the trio of leaders who launched Operation Cast Lead against Gaza last December.

Addressing the opening meeting of the winter session of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, Netanyahu went on to harshly criticize Judge Richard Goldstone’s report on alleged war crimes committed during the three-week-long attack.

"This distorted report, written by this distorted committee, undermines Israel's basic right for self-defense,” the prime minister was quoted as saying by the news site Ynet. “This report encourages terror and endangers peace. I want to clarify here: Israel will not take any chances for peace if it cannot defend itself."

During the speech, Ynet reported, Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka, of the Palestinian-Arab party Balad, called out to Netanyahu, "You killed 400 children!" He was then silenced by the parliament speaker.

Netanyahu also reiterated previously-stated conditions for renewed peace talks with the Palestinians. “Without recognizing the State of Israel as the Jews' state we won't be able to reach peace,” he said.

"I have already said that I am not setting any preconditions for peace talks with the Palestinians. We are working so that our joint efforts with US President Obama's administration will lead to their swift resumption,” he added.

Responding to the speech, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said, “Netanyahu is searching for the no partner peried, and he has nothing new in his political position and he talks about peace in a PR language and he calls to go back to negotiations without any conditions.”

Dr Saeb Erekat replied to the speech by saying “There is no [peace] partner. Period,” referring to Israel under Netanyahu.

Erekat said Netanyahu “has nothing new in his political position. He talks about peace in the language of public relations.”

“I want to say and assure that we will not be involved [in negotiating toward] a state with temporary borders. We reject any peace process without Jerusalem and the return of the refugees. We will not be the ones to recognize the Jewishness of the state,” he added.

“The Obama administration must intervene because Netenyahu has rejected all the terms of reference of the peace process, including the Road Map.”
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