PM tells security conference Iranians encircled Israel with missiles, while they sit safely in Tehran; adds Iran is at most advanced stage of nuclear program, indicating Jerusalem’s cyber skills and international standing to be enlisted in response
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at Reichman U. security conference on Tuesday (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett signaled readiness on Tuesday to step up Israel’s confrontation with Iran and reiterated that his country would not be bound by any new Iranian nuclear deal with world powers.
“Israel is of course not a party to the deal and Israel is not obligated by the deal,” Bennett said in a conference on security at the Reichman University.
Indirect negotiations will begin on Nov. 29 about reviving the 2015 deal, which former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from, deeming it insufficient to shut down projects with bomb-making potential – a view shared by the Israelis.
Iran, which denies seeking nuclear arms, has since the U.S. walkout breached the deal with expanded uranium enrichment.
Bennett, who took power in June, described Iran in a speech as being at “the most advanced stage of its nuclear program”.
While his government has previously said it would be open to a new nuclear deal with tougher restrictions on Iran, Bennett reasserted Israel’s autonomy to take action against its arch-foe.
“We face complicated times. It is possible that there will be disputes with the best of our friends,” he told the televised conference.
Bennett voiced frustration with what he described as Israel’s smaller-scale clashes with Iranian guerrilla allies.
“The Iranians have encircled the State of Israel with missiles while they sit safely in Tehran,” he said. “To chase the terrorist du jour sent by the (Iranian covert) Quds Force does not pay off anymore. We must go for the dispatcher.”
Stopping short of explicitly threatening war, Bennett said cyber-technologies and what he deemed Israel’s advantages as a democracy and international support could be brought to bear.
“Iran is much more vulnerable than is commonly thought,” he said.
Bennett said Israel invested vast financial, military, technological and political resources – some covert, in dealing with the Iranian threat, but after such a period of time, “there is a need to take a long look at what was achieved and recalibrate efforts.”
He claimed the Netanyahu government allowed Iran to advance towards nuclear capability.
“When I entered the Prime Minister’s Office I was amazed at the difference between the rhetoric and actual actions undertaken,” he said. “In a word, we inherited Iran’s nuclear program, in its most advanced stage with the most sophisticated uranium enrichment centrifuges.”