Economics Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday decried the notion of an internationally backed peace accord between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and stressed that with regard to its security interests, Israel cannot depend on other nations.
“When you see everything that’s going on around us, I can’t even comprehend signing an agreement that’s based on international guarantees, UN or other, and to trust anyone that is not the IDF, which is the only one that can protect us,” Bennett said in an interview with Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, published Wednesday.
Commenting on the ongoing Syrian civil war, Bennett assessed that the West seems disinclined to enter the conflict, and suggested that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan deterred US and European citizens from stomaching military action in the Middle East.
“You cannot avoid recognizing that the West is not interested in activism,” he said.”Maybe it is a backlash from the Bush years, when the Americans wanted to shape the world.”
Bennett went on to criticize US policies on the Syrian conflict, likening the country’s inaction to the government’s initial World War II reluctance to get involved. ”What’s happening now is reminiscent of American isolationism before and during World War II,” Bennett said.
He added that Western nations should respond forcefully to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s alleged chemical weapons use.
“The West must create dependability and deterrence; otherwise, what does Assad see? That he can do anything and nothing will happen,” said the minister, who heads the religious-nationalist Jewish Home party.
Bennett went on to discuss Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to restart peace talks and said that despite the differences of opinion between them, he believed the prime minister was acting in Israel’s best interest.
“It’s no secret that Netanyahu and I have a few disagreements. I completely disagree with him on the Palestinian issue. I opposed freeing prisoners, but I also see the systematic pressure being forced upon him, and I think he is handling things correctly.”
“Not all is bad: Netanyahu has the capability to distinguish between essential issues from minor ones, and when he identifies the right issue, he deals with it,” Bennett said.