Photo Credit: Noam Revkin Fenton/FLASH90
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, July 14, 2021.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Tuesday morning, only a few days before the resumption of nuclear talks between Iran and the 5 powers in Vienna: “The Iranian regime has surrounded Israel with missiles while they sit in Tehran. They harass us from a distance, harm us, and draw energy from us, all without leaving home. They shed our blood without paying a price, an easy arrangement, all things considered. The obvious conclusion is that chasing the terrorist du jour operated by Quds Force simply doesn’t make sense anymore. We need to go to the source.”

Bennett spoke at Reichman University, formerly the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. In his opening remarks, Bennett referred to Israel’s activities against the Iranian threat: “For three decades Israel’s number one enemy has been the Islamic Republic of Iran. The resources invested by our country in dealing with the Iranian threat – military, political, economic, technological, secret and overt – have been enormous. Now it appears necessary to look at what we have achieved and examine whether we need to recalibrate this enormous effort. And if you observe it truthfully, the answer is yes.”

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The PM was extremely critical of his predecessor, who made the struggle against the nuclear deal the centerpiece of his foreign relations, but, apparently, didn’t do much about it. “When I entered the Prime Minister’s Office, I was amazed by the gap between rhetoric and action,” he shared with his audience. “I have found a disturbing gap between the ‘We will never allow Iran to go nuclear’ statements and the legacy that we received. Iran is in the most advanced state of its nuclear program, with its enrichment machine more sophisticated and broader than ever,” Bennett added.

Bennett pointed out PM Netanyahu’s fundamental strategic error: “Asymmetry is Israel’s biggest strategic mistake. They send us emissaries from Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, and even further afield, and we wrestle with these emissaries. This causes continuous attrition which plays right into their hands, this is exactly what they want to happen. The second conclusion is that we need to take advantage of our advantages better than before. We have international legitimacy, cyber, democracy. That’s, among other things, how the United States defeated the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. There has never been a kinetic attack on the USSR.”

“The third conclusion is we must widen the gap with our enemies, together and each one separately. Israel is strong, but it needs to be even stronger. How do you do it? We need to promote a competitive and growing economy. And the fruits of this growth must be invested in intensification,” Bennett added.

On Sunday, I reported that Bennett wants to further increase the defense budget in the near future, to upgrade the IDF’s offensive capabilities, especially in new missiles and precision armament for the Air Force. Bennett believes that the accelerated growth of Israel’s high-tech industry and the expected rise of the gross national product should be used to increase the volume of investments in building the IDF’s power (Report: Bennett Plans to Use Israel’s Economic Success to Boost Defense Budget Even More).

Bennett concluded his talk with comments about the political situation in Iran: “I had dozens of meetings with world leaders, they talked to me about Israeli innovation and cooperation. Opposite us stands the Islamic Republic of Iran, a confrontation we did not ask for, a people against whom we have nothing. A regime that to justify itself 40 years ago painted the image of big Satan and little Satan. But Iran is much more vulnerable than was previously thought.”

“The Revolutionary Guards regime is in its most difficult situation since 1979,” Bennett continued. This is a regime that fails to provide water to its citizens, a weak economy, a corrupt regime that uses fear to maintain control. The Iranians are not eager to commit suicide. They prefer to find Lebanese volunteers to fight on their behalf. It is the struggle of the entire world against a regime that’s shaking the world.”

Bennett then delivered an unambiguous message to the White House, saying, “We hope the world will not blink, but even if it does, we will not blink. We are facing a complex period, there may be disagreements with our best friends. Even if there is a return to the nuclear agreement, Israel is not a party to the agreement and is not bound by it.”

The PM ended with another jab at his predecessor’s failed efforts to stop Iran: “We will not repeat the mistake we made in 2015. Back then, all the noise we made affected us, and the State of Israel was asleep at the watch. We will learn from this mistake.”

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.
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