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Netanyahu says Palestinians have 'culture of death'

Feb. 11, 2016 11:32 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 12, 2016 12:37 P.M.)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (AFP/Menahem Kahana, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Members of the Knesset on Wednesday argued the possibility of a two-state solution at a special plenum debate, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Palestinian "terror" came from a "culture of death," according to a Knesset press release.

During the debate, the Israeli PM and Israel's Labor party opposition leader Isaac Herzog exchanged criticisms over the "most realistic" way to obtain a two-state solution.

Herzog, who is a strong supporter of the two-state solution, recently announced that he did not think two states were possible under today's political climate, and introduced a plan late last month that would see many Palestinian areas in occupied East Jerusalem cut off from the rest of the city.

"We have a different vision, and as hard as you try, you will not be able to kill it. The two-state vision isn`t dead," Herzog said. "But it won`t happen tomorrow, certainly not as long as you, Mr. Netanyahu and [Palestinian President] Abu Mazen are afraid to make a move."

"Therefore, I am determining that what we can achieve today is security for the citizens of Israel and separation between us and the Palestinians, with actions rather than talk."

Netanyahu said Herzog and the Labor party could not be "trusted" with solutions due to being "years late in understanding" facts on the ground.

"Terror is not a result of occupation,” Netanyahu said. "The terror stems from a culture of death. Its goal is not to free a state, it is to destroy a state."

In response, Herzog argued that the two-state solution "is the only vision that will preserve Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. The alternative is a Jewish-Arab state that will destroy Israel as a Jewish state."

"I know the far right disagrees with me. The far right thinks annexing the territories with their Palestinian residents is the solution,” Herzog said. "Well, who stopped you? You set up a purely rightist government. What are you afraid of?"

Herzog accused Netanyahu's government of putting Israel on a trajectory that would force the country to accept Palestinian's "right of return."

"The radical right want to annex territories and bring millions of Palestinians to the State of Israel," Herzog said.

Zehava Galon, the chairwoman of Meretz, a left-wing Zionist party, criticized Herzog's Labor party for "giving up on the two-state solution."

"The terror wave that has been wreaking havoc here over the past few months is proof of the collapse of the notion that the conflict can be managed. What solution are you proposing," Golan shot back at both parties.

"To surround ourselves with fences? To annex 150,000 Palestinians? Where`s the security? When will the moment come when Israelis and Palestinians will stop being murdered? We are paying the price for your cowardly policy, which assumed that we can continue life here as usual when millions of Palestinians are under occupation and without rights."

During the debate, Israeli media reported that several MKs from the Joint List -- a party composed of four Palestinian-dominated parties -- walked out of the plenum in protest.

The Israeli government has long been criticized for policy that has made a two-state solution impossible, particularly in regards to ongoing settlement expansion in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Netanyahu consistently argues that settlements are not an obstacle to peace despite international condemnation of illegal settlement growth onto private Palestinian land.

Well over 500,000 Israelis are currently living across the occupied Palestinian territory, interconnected by Israeli-only infrastructure that both steals from Palestinian resources and cuts off Palestinian communities from one another.

The Israeli PM's allegations that "terror" stems from a "culture of death" rather than occupation comes despite remarks from UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon last month that it was "human nature" for Palestinians to react violently to Israel's nearly 50-year military occupation.
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