CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Likud chairman and opposition leader Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu said if he's elected prime minister, he won't carry out the Olmert-Abbas peace deal.
The election itself would serve as a referendum of the people of Israel, Netanyahu told the Israeli daily Makor Rishon. He also said he would never consider dividing the nation's capital.
"I can say categorically that I will not divide Jerusalem," said the Likud chairman.
In a separate interview with The Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu blamed the Olmert government's indecisiveness for failure to end the rocket assault on southern Israel from the Gaza Strip.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has the resources to deal with the situation in Gaza, he said, but were being thwarted by "a failure of political leadership."
"The first thing is to deprive [the terrorists] of sanctuary and the second is to increase the cost to the point of bringing down the regime," Netanyahu said. "Change the rules of the game. It shouldn't be an incremental tit for tat -- that they kill a few of our people and we kill a few of theirs," he said.
"I say we have to go from attrition to deterrence and, if necessary, bring down the regime -- and ultimately, I believe it will be necessary," he said.
"There will be others who rise to fill the vacuum, but we cannot tolerate the current situation. No country would suffer this," Netanyahu said.
If the government doesn't know how to deal with Gaza, "let them clear the way for people who can do it a lot better," he said. "It's unacceptable what is happening in Gaza. The [Olmert government] might think this is the best possible government, [but] tell that to the residents of Ashkelon, Sderot [and] soon of Ashdod," he said.
"Most Israelis understand this is unacceptable and most [foreign] governments I talk to can't begin to fathom why Israel is not using the vast power it has to stop it," he said.
While not lined up with Olmert on political, security, economic policy and education, Netanyahu supports the government's position on the Iranian nuclear program.
"On Iran, you won't hear a partisan position from me because there is none," he said. "There is no coalition or opposition on the nature of the Iranian nuclear threat and the need to roll it back. There is complete unanimity and cooperation between the prime minister and myself," he said.
But on the situation in Gaza and Iranian-backed terror in general, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, Netanyahu is highly critical of the Olmert-led government.
"The unilateral retreat from Lebanon [under former Prime Minister Ehud Barak in 2000] immeasurably strengthened Hezbollah and produced an Iranian base north of the country from which they launched 4,000 rockets [during the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006]. That base is arming itself feverishly now, with 40,000 mostly Iranian missiles of greater range and payloads, which is almost three times what they had before the way," he said.
"The same policy of unilateral retreat from Gaza, which Olmert advocated, produced the immeasurable strengthening of Hamas, leading them ultimately to take over Gaza, giving them a second Iranian base, from which, since the disengagement [in August 2005], they fired 4,000 rockets, as well. That base too is being armed feverishly, as we predicted," he said.
"These two failures should have made people stop in their tracks before they offered a third base here [in Judea and Samaria -- the West Bank], which is essentially what the government is doing," Netanyahu said.
"The public is being told it's all or nothing. You either give everything away or give nothing away. Both courses are unwise and dangerous," he said.
Netanyahu, who as finance minister in the government of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, helped reverse the economic recession brought on by the second intifada [armed Palestinian uprising], advocates "an economic peace" with the Palestinians who are willing, while retaining security control of Judea and Samaria.
So far as Gaza is concerned, Netanyahu believes that "ultimately, we will have to bring down the Hamas regime."
A week ago Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Egypt now has "a common border with Iran," referring to Iranian-trained Palestinian terrorists in Gaza. While Egyptian population centers are 125 miles away, Israeli cities are right on the border.
"Israeli cities and towns literally touch the [Gaza] border. We have a much more dangerous border and ultimately, over time, we let this happen," he said.
Sources: YNet news, The Jerusalem Post