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Bennett: Israeli strategy on Iran marks “turning point”

“The days of immunity, in which Iran attacks Israel and spreads terrorism via its regional proxies but remains unscathed – are over. We are taking action, everywhere, at any time, and will continue to do so,” stated Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

By Jonathan Hessen and Erin Viner

“The past year saw a turning point in the Israeli strategy vis-à-vis Iran,” Prime Minister Bennett said in televised remarks during an address to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Stressing that the days repeated “exported terror” by the Islamic Republic and attacks on Israel strikes by Iran and its regional proxies “have ended,” Bennett added that over the past year, “the State of Israel has taken action against the head of the terrorist octopus and not just against the arms as was done in previous decades.”

After pointing out that Iran crossed a series of red lines, particularly in the enrichment of uranium to 60%, Bennett said without an appropriate response from the international community, the Israeli leader said his nation “cannot – and will not – accept such a situation.”

“We act all the time and in every place and we will continue,” he vowed.

The Israeli leader further underscored that he conveyed his government’s position on the Ayatollah regime’s nuclear advancements during last week’s snap visit to Jerusalem by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Dr. Rafael Mariano Grossi, and that he expects a firm response by the IAEA Board of Governors, which is now meeting.

“We expect the Board of Governors will issue a clear warning sign before the regime in Tehran and make clear that if they continue their defiant nuclear policy, they will pay a heavy price,” he said. (See the full text of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Remarks to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Iran and other topics below)

The Islamic Republic is likely to be infuriated by such an IAEA statement, which could consequently further damage prospects of resuming efforts to salvage the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Indirect talks in Vienna on restoring the salvaging the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers have repeatedly stalled and not convened since March.

Until now, Western powers had held off submitting a draft resolution to previous IAEA quarterly meetings to avoid exacerbating tensions with Iran, but the international community – particularly Israel – believe the pace of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear development program is close to being able to produce weapons.

The issue has now reached a boiling point after the IAEA revealed last week that Iran has still refused to provide credible answers on the particles found at three mainly old but undeclared sites – despite having agreed to do so three months ago.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz voiced similar remarks to Prime Minister Bennett’s earlier this week.

“Iran committed to providing the International Atomic Energy Agency information that will enable closing the outstanding files. This did not happen, and Iran continues to hide the truth deep underneath the earth in a variety of installations,” Gantz said at the start of a weekly meeting with his Blue and White political faction. “In the face of concealment, advancement of developing its nuclear program and its regional aggression, the (outstanding) files and investigations must not be closed and action must be taken in the field and to harshly condemn Iran’s harming of peace and stability in the region and globally.”

In support of a decision by Bennett to reveal documents on the United Nation nuclear watchdog organization’s monitoring activities retrieved by the Mossad that further incriminate the Islamic Republic, Gantz said, “The Prime Minister did well when he met with IAEA Director General and transferred to him information that we possess. We will continue to act on all fronts and by all means with all of our partners for the purpose of thwarting Iran’s dangerous and continued nuclear advancement.

In subsequent remarks at a press conference on Monday, Director General Grossi said, that “the Agency never closes anything forever. If there is more information arriving and we look at it and we see that it is relevant, for example in this case which applies to Marivan, then we ask more questions on the basis of this information we have.”

When asked specifically about the systems that were used to test the undisclosed nuclear materials at Marivan, identified as “Location 4” in the IAEA report, Grossi said, “We have received some answers, but they tend to be, as I… as we said, technically not credible. They are telling us – we are getting to too technical details, but I’ll give you a flare of what this could be – they explain the presence of certain particles in a way which our assessment indicates that cannot be the answer. So, when that happens we try to go back, as you do in a normal dialogue or process, let’s say, and we are… you know, sometimes the story changes a little bit or sometimes they tell us that it’s because of a sabotage by a third party (reference to Israel), which again, is not technically possible because of the nature, the spread, the different varieties of isotopic particles that had been found, so – we have told them this is not… it doesn’t explain; what we found cannot be explained in this way.”

While Israel would prefer a diplomatic resolution to the standoff with Iran, Bennett told Grossi that Jerusalem could take independent action, reiterating a long-standing veiled threat to launch a pre-emptive war.

The United States, and E3 nations of France, Britain and Germany are also pushing for the IAEA Board of Governors to rebuke Iran for failing to answer longstanding questions on uranium traces at undeclared sites in Toorkooz-abad, Teheran & Marivan.

The Ayatollah regime has repeatedly vowed to annihilate the Jewish State. Israel has consistently warned that its arch-enemy will try to secure a windfall in sanctions relief at the talks, without sufficiently rolling back nuclear bomb-making potential through its accelerated enrichment of uranium.

“For any mistake made by the enemy, we will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground by the order of the Supreme Leader,” Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency cited the army ground forces’ Commander Kiumars Heydari as saying yesterday.


The full text of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Remarks to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee

Following are Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s remarks to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee today (Tuesday, 7 June 2022):

“Members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, I am pleased to be here today for the second time and appear before you to summarize my government’s first year in office.

In the next few minutes I will present and expand on the security situation and the policy of the State of Israel in the various sectors. If you will, I would like to focus on two main topics.

The first year of my government was the quietest that residents of the south – Sderot, Ashkelon and the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip – have experienced since the disengagement. This is a major achievement by our government.

The numbers are clear:

In 2019, 1,291 rockets were fired from Gaza.

In 2020, there were 176.

In 2021 (Operation Guardians of the Walls), there were 3,250.

In 2022, so far, there have been only six, with no injury or loss of life.

This is not a coincidence but is the result of a clear and determined policy – decisiveness for every balloon and a steadfast stance in the face of blackmail and violence. We also saw this during the flag parade when we did not capitulate to Hamas’s threats. In the face of terrorist threats, we held the parade despite Hamas’s attempts to threaten us and get the better of Israel once again.

This year we took the fight to our enemies. We do not allow them to get stronger and are taking action. We are always ready, of course, and the security establishment is prepared for various scenarios.

On the Iranian front, the past year saw a turning point in the Israeli strategy vis-à-vis Iran. We see the brave Iranian people going out into the streets in Iran and demonstrating against the repression and tyranny of the regime, against the hunger and against the corruption that is afflicting them.

In the past year, the State of Israel has taken action against the head of the terrorist octopus and not just against the arms as was done in previous decades.

The days of immunity, in which Iran attacks Israel and spreads terrorism via its regional proxies but remains unscathed – are over.

We are taking action, everywhere, at any time, and will continue to do so.

In recent years, Iran has crossed a series of red lines, especially in enriching uranium at a level of 60% — without a response and the world goes on.

Israel cannot – and will not – accept such a situation.

Last Friday, I met with International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi and we discussed this. He came for a snap visit and I clarified Israel’s position which is that we are acting, and will continue to reserve the freedom to take such action against the Iranian nuclear program as may be necessary, at any time, with or without an agreement. Nothing will tie our hands. We are not just saying this but are also upholding it.

We expect that the IAEA Board of Governors will send a clear warning signal to the regime in Iran and clarify to it that if it continues with its policy of defiance in the nuclear sphere, they will pay a painful price for it.

On the domestic security front, I think the events of Operation Guardians of the Walls and the disturbances that we saw, were threats that led to an understanding of the threat from within. But the past year, I can say, was a year in which the Government of Israel took action against crime and violent nationalism in the Arab sector, and this was after a decade of neglect.

We entered with the full force of the Israel Police. Yes, I made the decision to bring in the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) into the domestic security situation as well, to the worlds of terrorism, worlds that could harm the national security of the State of Israel.

Those who have gained the most from all of these moves are – first and foremost – the Arab sector. The Arab sector has suffered terribly and it is telling us in simple Hebrew: ‘With all of the budgets that you want to give to education, the economy and unemployment, it does not help us if they are shooting at our children in the streets. Come in and deal with it.’

So this year the government came in and dealt with it, with outstanding results. Murders, shootings and crime in the Arab sector declined considerably in one year.

And finally, for as long as I can remember, we have criticized Israeli public diplomacy. For many years, the public diplomacy staff was directed to other needs. We have established the Public Diplomacy Directorate. It has been doing outstanding work and coordinating between the various government ministries with a lot of energy. In all recent events, as difficult as they were, we were there to deal with them, to provide facts in rebuttal quickly, and deal with dozens of incidents that without quick public diplomacy efforts we might have paid a heavy price for.

Again, I would like to thank all the members of the committee and the chairperson and tell the citizens of Israel – Israel is in good hands. The security of the State of Israel is improving and there is much work.

Thank you.”