The world must take Iran to task for violating its nuclear commitments, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Tuesday at the Jerusalem Post Conference.
Iran is “blatantly violating” its commitments to the International Atomic Energy Agency, he said. “I’m not even talking about the [2015 Iran nuclear deal]. These are very fundamental commitments.”
Bennett said he told US President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take action against Iran.
Israel is “not going to wait,” he said. “I expect global powers to hold [Iran] accountable, to bring them to the UN Security Council. That would be the peaceful route.”
“There are other routes, but that is the right thing to do, and we are going to continue pursuing that over the coming weeks and months,” he added.
Angela Merkel and Naftali Bennett during the former’s visit to Israel on October 10, 2021. (credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)
Bennett said Israel shares four major challenges with the broader world, and it can play a special role in addressing them.
The first is the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, adding: “We are on the way out of the Delta wave without one day of closure – a remarkable feat.”
Israel is also working on ways to handle the pandemic when it ebbs, in between waves, and how to respond to variants that may be resistant to the currently available vaccines, Bennett said.
The challenge of political polarization is “devastating,” he said, adding that it has impacted many countries around the world in which people are in an “echo chamber, [with] everyone reinforced in their preexisting opinions.”
Bennett expressed pride in his “eclectic” coalition and said he sees value in “ongoing tension, debate and friction” between different political camps to find the right answers to benefit Israel’s citizens.
He cited three dominant ideological vectors in Israel: the national force, which roughly corresponds to the Right; the humanistic-global approach, which is the Left; and the religious approach.
“We need all three vectors… I wouldn’t want an Israel without a left wing,” he said. “I clearly feel differently from them on a lot of issues, but I want that counter-debate. I am proud to lead a government… that is committed to all of its citizens.
“For that to happen, there needs to be real dialogue. Not only talking but also a novel thing in Israel: listening.”
Another challenge Israel is uniquely equipped to face is Islamic terrorism, being “quite literally surrounded by the worst terror groups in the world,” Bennett said.
The fourth and final challenge is climate change, he said.
Bennett encouraged Israelis with technological know-how to “use the brainpower here to save the world. That’s a better mission than increasing the number of eyeballs watching an ad, which we’re quite good at in Israel.”