Jeers Cause Rabin to Walk Out on Parliament Debate
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin walked out of a stormy Parliament debate today after opposition members heckled him about increased bloodshed in the occupied territories and demanded he resign.
Eight small parties tried to bring down the government with a series of no-confidence motions, but legislators of the broad national unity government voted them down.
The opposition reflected growing unease many Israelis feel about the army’s handling of the Palestinian uprising in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. There also is frustration because the army has not been able to squelch the 13-month revolt, which does not appear to be flagging.
The Cabinet, meanwhile, met behind closed doors for a briefing on tougher army policies that include destroying the houses of suspected stone-throwers and liberalizing shooting regulations.
Rabin, who stopped his speech at least a dozen times because of raucous shouting, left the podium after about half an hour and refused to complete his statement.
“I propose the government reject these no-confidence motions,” he said quietly before leaving the hall.
The debate was over the high number of Palestinian deaths in recent weeks.
Thirteen Palestinians have been killed in the last week, and critics have blamed the army’s increasing use of plastic bullets and newly introduced rubber-coated metal pellets for many of the casualties.
Rabin said that as long as Palestinians stage violent protests, the tougher army policies will stand.
“As long as they say, ‘We will continue with violence,’ their violence will be met with force,” he said. “What is Israel to do?”
“Talk peace!” shouted one Arab member of Parliament.
“Get out of the territories!” shouted another.
‘A Brain of Lead’
“This is a government with a plastic heart, a brain of lead and a conscience of rubber,” said Mohammad Miari of the Progressive List for Peace.
Rabin said residents of the occupied territories refuse to abandon support for the Palestine Liberation Organization and instead talk peace directly with Israel.
Israel refuses to talk with the PLO, which it considers a terrorist organization.
“What does all that have to do with killing children, with the daily slaughter in the territories?” shouted Tewfik Toubi, an Arab member of the Israel Communist Party.