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Bennett surrendered to Biden on Iran, says opposition

CM 31/08/2021

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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett failed to stand up to pressure from US President Joe Biden on the Iranian issue, opposition representative Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) said on Tuesday in a special session of the Knesset during its summer recess.
Hanegbi, who is one of the longest-serving MKs, recounted the history of Israeli prime ministers resisting pressure from US presidents, from Menachem Begin to Benjamin Netanyahu, and said Bennett failed to follow in their footsteps. He said Bennett should have learned from Netanyahu’s controversial 2015 speech to Congress on the Iran deal, which Hanegbi attended.
“It wasn’t easy or comfortable for them, but our prime ministers are not elected in order to receive compliments in the White House,” Hanegbi said.

“Bennett collapsed when he should have said ‘Mr President, I respect your view that the Iran deal should be resumed, but we will not be obligated by the agreement and we will not let Iran gain the power to wipe us off the map. We don’t need permission to defend ourselves.’ That is what was not said in the White House, and because it was not said, we have no confidence in this government.”
Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana (Yamina), a close confidant of Bennett, responded on his behalf that the government inherited the situation with Iran from Netanyahu and was not party to the Iran deal.
“Israel reserves the right to decide for itself on the Iran issue,” Kahana said. “On the Iranian issue, the opposition should give its support and not make it a tool for politics.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz had asked on Monday to speak on the government’s behalf but was turned down by Bennett’s associates, who were angry at him for meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Opposition MKs mocked Bennett for sending the religious services minister to speak on Iran instead of the minister of defense.
“I guess on the Iran issue, like other security matters, all we can do is pray, so they sent us the religious services minister to deal with that,” MK Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionist Party) said.
Bennett’s associates and right-wing ministers in the government continued to criticize Gantz on Tuesday for the meeting with Abbas. Gantz’s number two in his Blue and White Party, Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, defended Gantz.
“The cowards criticizing Defense Minister Gantz are narrow-minded politicians who are jealous of his leadership,” Tamano-Shata told Army Radio. “They are jealous because he has earned the public’s trust on security issues and the fight against coronavirus.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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