Levy wont retract fiery words

The motion was rejected 8-58. The vote marked support for the government from all of the right-wing parties, with all of the Knesset members from Arab parties in opposition.

On Feb. 23, Levy was responding to a motion regarding Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's recent statements in support of Hezbollah.

Israel will repay Hezbollah attacks "blood for blood, soul for soul, child for child," Levy declared during a prolonged tirade.

United Arab List whip Taleb a-Sanaa said Levy's speech last week was "un-Jewish" and accused him of "moral bankruptcy." He demanded that Levy explain to him exactly how Israel plans to kill Lebanese children.

"There was never an Arab leader, not even [Hezbollah leader Sheikh] Hassan Nasrallah, who threatened to murder children," a-Sanaa said.

Levy accused the Arab Knesset members of disloyalty to the state. "You'll learn to respect the state, and if not you will stay frustrated. Shame on you," Levy said regarding their support of Hezbollah as so-called freedom fighters.

Levy's comments sparked international condemnation, but he received backing from Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

Barak stressed that Levy's statements "are symbolic of the heavy responsibility we feel for the security of Israel."

However, Barak added, "All of our actions — even when we found ourselves forced to hit back at infrastructure in Lebanon — are done in a way so as to prevent, as much as is possible, the hitting of civilians."

The United States criticized Levy.

"We don't need rhetoric from anybody that inflames the situation," State Department spokesman James Rubin said last week.