Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday night, Flag Day, spoke at the national-religious flagship, Merkaz Harav Yeshiva, delivering what has already been dubbed as “the trees speech.”
Commenting on the ongoing rumblings inside his coalition government, the PM told his audience, which included one national-religious minister who’s responsible for some of those rumblings, Itamar Ben Gvir:
“I want to say something to my coalition allies: we don’t have and we won’t have a better government. A national government, a strong government, a government that cares about Jewish heritage, the settlement in the Land of Israel, the people of Israel, and the future of Israel. So, it’s time to stop threatening, stop boycotting, stop climbing the trees – everyone must work together and pass the budget for the sake of the nation, for the settlement enterprise, for the Land of Israel, and for the Torah of Israel.”
Minister Ben Gvir took the podium after Netanyahu had left the building, and said in response to the tree-climbing thing: “The Prime Minister, whom I love very much, said something important in his speech: don’t climb trees. Mr. Prime Minister – targeted eliminations are not a tree. Judicial reform is not on a tree. Settlements in all the parts of Judea and Samaria are not on a tree. Evicting Khan El Ahmar is not on a tree. Taking away the phones from terrorists in prison is not on a tree. We can do it with our own strength. We have a right-wing government, we must not botch this.”
But, like I said, by then Bibi was already gone.
When he was still by the podium, Netanyahu joked, alluding to the left-wing protests against the judicial reform and Flag Day: “Recently, there’s been a great demand for Israeli flags, it’s overloading the flag manufacturers.” He noted: “We are brothers, and without having to give up important principles, we always opt for negotiations and agreements.”
Moving to Jerusalem Liberation Day, where the flags had been carried by right-wing marchers for a change, Netanyahu boasted: “I ordered the flags parade to be held despite the threats, and because of the threats. I say to the terrorist organizations – you don’t scare us. The thousands of flags that were waved in the parade of flags are the answer to terrorism. Anyone who tries to harm Israel, they are responsible for what will befall them.”
“I’m also saying this as a way of correcting the event that took place in Jerusalem last year and was documented in a video in which two young Israeli women took down their Israeli flags fearing Palestinian demonstrators who were standing nearby with PLO flags. An event like this did not take place under my government,” Netanyahu said to great applause.