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Netanyahu shame for damning words.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's controversial wife said 'this country can burn' and that the couple would leave Israel in a taped phone conversation played on TV.

Sara Netanyahu later apologised to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for the comments made during a conversation with Shimshon Deri, an activist in Netanyahu and Sharon's Likud party.

'When the country is in flames, when there are terror attacks, there is one person who can save this country,' she had said, referring to her husband, who is vying with Sharon for party leadership.

Using Netanyahu's nickname, she said, 'Bibi is a leader who is greater than this entire country, he really is a leader on a national scale. We will move abroad. This country can burn. This country cannot survive without Bibi. People here will be slaughtered.'

Netanyahu served as Israel's prime minister from 1996-9, pursuing a hard-line policy towards the Palestinians.

He was defeated in an election by the moderate Ehud Barak, whose peace efforts failed. Barak lost an election in February, 2001, to Sharon, a veteran hawk.

Sara Netanyahu got a reputation as a tempestuous and troublesome character during her husband's tenure as premier.

She was interrogated by police, along with her husband, on suspicion of stealing gifts received while Netanyahu was in office, but neither was formally charged. Israelis, meanwhile, nervous about Palestinian terror attacks, headed for synagogues and holiday resorts yesterday to celebrate the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana.

Fear of bomb attacks have kept Israelis off the streets and tourists out of the country altogether, and restaurants, souvenir shops and other walk-in businesses have been hit hard.

The violence began on September 28, 2000, two days before the New Year, and by the time the holiday was over, it had escalated into a full scale conflict, depressing the economies of both Israel and the Palestinian territories and dampening hopes for peace.

More than 250 Israelis have been killed in more than 70 Palestinian suicide bomb attacks in the last two years. Overall, 1,850 people have been killed on the Palestinian side and 610 on the Israeli side.

Police and soldiers were on patrol, but unlike previous years, there was no noticeable increase in security.

Israeli Defence Ministry spokesman Yarden Vatikay explained: 'The readiness is so high that there really is not much more we can do.'
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 7, 2002
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