Shouting above the raucous cries of the opposition, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Parliament Monday he would not allow the creation of a Palestinian state on the West Bank or Gaza Strip and he would build more Israeli settlements.
Opposition leader Ehud Barak responded with a ferocious attack on Netanyahu, who listened red-faced and grinding his teeth as Barak portrayed him as inexperienced and incompetent. The Labor Party leader accused Netanyahu of dragging Israel into "unnecessary war" with the Arabs.
Opening the winter session of the Knesset in a country seething with discord, Netanyahu insisted he is dedicated to peace but said Israel must negotiate with its own needs in mind.
"Israel will be opposed to the creation of an Arab state west of the Jordan River," he said, referring to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Jewish settlement-building will continue, and there will be no concessions to the Palestinians unless they do more to fight terrorism, he said.
Looking directly at the clearly uncomfortable Netanyahu, Barak -- who was once the premier's commander of the army -- said: "War is not a picnic!"