PM invokes Begin at ‘Altalena’ memorial (JERUSALEM POST) By HERB KEINON 06/11/12)
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With his mind clearly on the dangers of a violent confrontation with
settlers over the looming evacuation of the Ulpana outpost, Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke at the annual Altalena memorial on
Sunday about two principles enshrined by Menachem Begin: The
supremacy of the rule of law and no civil war under any circumstances.
“At the height of the [Altalena] tragedy, Begin established a simple
and clear principle – there will not be a civil war,” Netanyahu said
at a ceremony held in Tel Aviv’s Nahalat Yitzhak cemetery.
“He knew that a civil war was the end of the Jewish state.”
Sixteen Irgun fighters and three IDF soldiers were killed when David
Ben-Gurion gave the order to fire on the Altalena arms ship 64 years
ago, in what has since widely been viewed as a watershed moment in
placing all the country’s weaponry under one authority. In order to
prevent civil war, Begin – then commander of the Irgun – ordered his
men not to retaliate.
Begin would have had grounds to act differently, Netanyahu said,
recalling the deaths of the Irgun fighters and the loss of precious
arms needed desperately for the country’s defense.
“But Begin did not think twice, did not hesitate for a second,” the
prime minister declared.
“He established a simple principle: There will not be a civil war.”
That rule established at the dawn of the country’s independence in
June 1948 is as applicable today, and forever, as it was then,
“We have one state, one government, one law,” Netanyahu said, tying
the Altalena incident into the debate over the five buildings at the
Ulpana outpost in Beit El that the Supreme Court has ordered removed.
“In Israel the government – and only the government – determines
policy,” he said, “and in Israel the law obligates everyone,
including the government, including the prime minister.”
Netanyahu said his government’s policy toward the settlements was
“We are strengthening the settlement enterprise through respecting
the law,” he said. “We are strengthening the settlement enterprise
against a torrent of pressure from inside and outside the country. We
are strengthening the settlement enterprise and are doing it by
respecting the law, and there is no contradiction between the two.”
On the contrary, he said, questioning the rule of law will harm
settlement, while respecting it will strengthen it.
“That is something Menachem Begin understood during the time of the
Altalena, and that is something we understand well today.”
Hours before the ceremony, Netanyahu – apparently concerned that the
court’s order to the government to evacuate the outpost will turn
violent – told a meeting of Likud ministers to act in ways that
Netanyahu thanked the ministers for voting against legislation in the
Knesset last week that would have retroactively authorized settlement
outposts, and called on them to do the same later this week when a
similar bill is expected to be brought before the government. (© 1995-
2011, The Jerusalem Post 06/11/12)
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