PM Bennett: world powers should not be fooled by Iran on nuclear weapons

September 13, 2021 by Gil Tanenbaum - TPS
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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made a number of remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday.

PM Naftali Bennett,. (Shalom Shalev/TPS)

He spoke largely about the capture of four of the six escaped terrorists. He also talked about the Coronavirus and the need for all Israelis to go out and get vaccinated.

Bennett also had some words about the threat from Iran and that country’s nuclear program. He referred to two reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that were published on the issue last week.

“These reports have given an official stamp to what we have been saying for a long time: The Iranians are advancing unhindered with their nuclear program,” declared Bennett. “They are ignoring the IAEA guidelines. They are simply disrespecting it, and are trying to disguise the fact that their program was, and remains a nuclear weapons program.”

The Prime Minister explained that, according to the first report, the Iranians are continuing to enrich uranium to a high level at several sites, while blocking the possibility of effective monitoring of the nuclear program.

“The Iranians understand that they are facing world powers that are very interested in returning to the nuclear deal at almost any cost – and I remind you, we do not believe in this agreement,” he said. This is because, explained Bennett, it does not provide the necessary oversight and guarantees. “The Iranians are dragging things out and making progress in the meantime. According to the second report, Iran is ignoring the IAEA demands to investigate evidence that indicates the existence of a weapons program in Iran,” he added.

“I hereby call on world powers not to be misled by the Iranian smokescreen that will lead to further concessions. There can be no giving in on the investigation of the sites and the most important message is that time must be allotted for this. They are delaying, but a distinct and clear deadline must be set that says ‘no more’.”

Naftali Bennett also stated that Iran’s nuclear program is at its most advanced point ever.” This is the legacy that this government has received, but now it is our watch. We are committed, and we will deal with this program,” he said.

On the capture of the escaped prisoners, Naftali Bennett praised, “everyone who shared in the effort: The Israel Police, the ISA, the IDF, the special units, the trackers, all those who worked day and night for a week to put the terrorists back in prison.”

“We are two-thirds of the way there; we have recaptured four of the six terrorists,” he added. “The effort to put the other two back in prison is continuing at these very moments.”

Bennett was critical of what he described as the many mistakes that allowed the escape to happen in the first place. He lamented that it will take a great deal of energy and effort necessary to correct the failures in the system. The Prime Minister mentioned the committee of inquiry into the escape being established by Public Security Minister Bar-Lev.

“There will be a comprehensive and serious inquiry, but we are taking a wider look and see what happened as a wake-up call,” he pledged. Bennett said that some of Israel’s security systems atrophied in recent years and need to be repaired. “Things can, and must, be done differently, especially regarding a security agency like the Prison Service.”

Bennett also referred to a weekend attack on the home of a senior police officer as well as the continued fight against crime and violence in the Arab sector.

Shots were fired at the home of Israel Police Maj.-Gen. Jamal Hakrush, who is an Arab and is responsible for the fight against crime in the Arab sector. Bennett called this a, “very serious attempt to sow fear in those enforcing the law in the State of Israel.”

The P.M. spoke with Maj.-Gen. Hakrush and told him on behalf of the Government of Israel that he has its full support in the fight against crime without reservation.

“The situation in which a senior officer and his family are threatened by criminals is unacceptable. This is another phenomenon that has taken root over more than a few years; we will not countenance it,” said Bennett.

“We are moving forward in the fight against crime in the Arab sector. Last week, Deputy [Public Security] Minister Yoav Segalovitz was appointed to head a team on this issue. We set up a ministerial committee chaired by me and we will not slacken,” added the PM.

Naftali Bennett also spoke about the continuing Coronavirus crisis. “We are taking – as the citizens of Israel can see – a different strategy of allowing life, and the State of Israel is open alongside the fight against the coronavirus,” he said.

The Prime Minister pointed to the successful opening of the school year, despite the coronavirus. The country also avoided another closure over the holidays. Bennett thanked the Israeli public for making this possible saying, “Overall, the citizens of Israel have been showing responsibility. Almost three million citizens have already been vaccinated with the third dose. They told us: ‘It will not be possible. There will not be vaccines. They will not come to get vaccinated.’ They were wrong. We saw to stocks of vaccines. The public came in their masses; the other people need to come.”

The P.M. said that he spoke recently, including this morning, with the heads of the coronavirus departments and with nurses at the hospitals. They all told him the same thing: “The vast majority of those who are currently hospitalized in serious condition are people who have not been vaccinated properly. This is how it is.”

The Prime Minister had some especially harsh words for the remaining Israelis who have yet to be vaccinated, declaring that they are risking the lives of their families and countrymen.

“I turn especially to those who have not been inoculated for the third time. Paradoxically, you are at the highest level of risk because some of you go around feeling as if you are protected because you have been vaccinated. But the vaccine fades, so the booster strengthens you,” he said.

Bennett stressed that those who have been inoculated with a booster are eleven times more protected than those who have not. He pointed out that Israel is the only country in the world that gives its citizens “this gift of the possibility, both legally and in terms of vaccine availability, to have the booster. In other countries, Western countries, citizens beg and want to do it, and are not given the possibility. So take advantage of it, take care of yourself.”

Bennett told the public, “We can overcome the coronavirus, but need to do it together.”

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