JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli leaders and soldiers will not be put on trial for war crimes, Benjamin Netanyahu said at the opening of the Knesset’s winter session.
The Israeli prime minister used his policy speech to attack the Goldstone report that accused Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during last winter’s Gaza military offensive. He reiterated that Israel has the right to defend itself.
"This distorted report, written by this distorted committee, undermines Israel’s right to defend itself," Netanyahu said. "This report encourages terrorism and threatens peace. Israel will not take risks for peace if it can’t defend itself."
Netanyahu said the state would protect its leaders, who protected Israelis by launching Operation Cast Lead against Hamas.
"We will not allow Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni and Ehud Barak, who sent our sons to war, to arrive at the international court in The Hague," he said.
Netanyahu also called on the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, calling it the "key" to peace. He did not discuss settlements.
Livni, who followed Netanyahu, slammed the prime minister, saying his main achievement since taking office was his political survival.
"We defeated America, we humiliated the Palestinians and we isolated ourselves," the opposition leader said in her criticism of the government.