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Netanyahu promises to topple Hamas leadership if elected Israeli PM
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08:56, December 25, 2008

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Israel's Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu promised Wednesday that he would act to topple the Hamas leadership if elected prime minister, local daily Ha'aretz reported on its website.

The opposition leader made the remarks to a group of Russian speakers, saying that under his leadership, Israel would move from a policy of absorbing blows to a policy where it is on the offensive.

In addition to stopping the rocket fire from Gaza Strip, such a policy would also restore Israel's "national honor," said Netanyahu.

Meanwhile, he reiterated previous remarks that Israel would hold on to the Golan Heights, saying that "It should be clear to the Syrians and to the world, the Golan Heights will stay in our hands."

In response to reports that leaders of the left-wing Meretz party are seeking to create a "blocking majority" against a rightist government, Netanyahu emphasized the importance of turning Likud into the biggest party so that it could form a government.

The rightist camp would be his first option in the search for coalition partners, said the opposition leader, adding that he would also turn to other parties in order to establish a wider coalition.

Earlier, Israeli Foreign Minister and ruling Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni made similar remarks to Netanyahu's regarding Hamas.

On Sunday, Livni said that she would lead the government to topple the Hamas' regime in Gaza Strip if elected prime minister in the February parliamentary election.

"The people of Israel are threatened, missiles are falling," she said to Kadima members. "I won't say what moves should be made. There is no calm in Hamas-controlled Gaza. Israel, and a government under my leadership, would topple Hamas in Gaza with military, economic and diplomatic means."

She vowed that "Israel must respond to restore its deterrence and stop the fire as long as it is fired upon," adding "that's what the government must do, and will do, under my leadership."


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