TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday said he hoped to forge peace with the Arab world in a speech marking the opening of the 21st Knesset.
Noting that Israel is nurturing budding ties with Arab nations, Netanyahu said: “Our new hope, which is growing stronger, is for peaceful relations and normal relations with many of our Arab neighbors.”
The prime minister praised Israel’s position of power in the global arena in a range of fields.
“We have turned Israel into a rising world power, in security, in foreign relations, the economy, science and technology, water purification, energy resources,” Netanyahu said. “We send a spacecraft to the moon, and on the ground we make the desert bloom.”
He noted that on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day on Wednesday, Israel’s ranking as a world power was a testimony as to how far the Jewish people had come since the threat of extermination.
He pledged to work to improve the lives of all Israelis.
“We will continue to act for the benefit of all citizens of Israel, without exception,” he said.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s main election rival, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, gave a first speech at the Knesset on Tuesday. He pledged that his party, which would sit in the opposition, would work against any effort to grant immunity to Netanyahu from being prosecuted on criminal charges.
“We won’t allow the Knesset to become a city of refuge for lawbreakers,” Gantz said.
“The political campaigns are behind us, now we need to work,” Gantz said. “We will stand guard for our democracy even for those who didn’t vote for us.”
Gantz’s No. 2, Yair Lapid, lashed out against Netanyahu.
“The person who was elected on a campaign of incitement and division can spare us all the call for fake unity. The person who spread every dirty lie can spare us. Netanyahu has been systemically tearing the nation apart. That’s how he makes his living,” Lapid said.