Bennett says his Jewish Home party not opposed to peace talks
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Bennett says his Jewish Home party not opposed to peace talks

Education minister tells Herzliya conference he supports boosting Palestinian economy, warns of Hezbollah threat

Education Minister Naftali Bennett speaks at the annual regional security conference at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center on June 22, 2017. (Oded Carni)
Education Minister Naftali Bennett speaks at the annual regional security conference at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center on June 22, 2017. (Oded Carni)

Education Minister Naftali Bennett said Thursday that his Jewish Home party was not opposed to talks with the Palestinians and supported measures to boost the Palestinian economy. However, he cautioned, some problems have no solutions.

Speaking at an annual regional security conference at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, Bennett, who heads the pro-settlement Jewish Home party, said that while he had “no problem with negotiations,” he didn’t want Israel to make concessions before the negotiations even began.

“We want peace, but sometimes situations are unsolvable problems and you need to live with them,” Bennett said. But “why do we need to pay hard currency in order to sit and talk with Abbas?” he asked.

“As the right-most flank of the government, I support Palestinian development,” he said. Bennett listed the Jezreel Valley railway line to link the Palestinian Authority city of Jenin with the Haifa coastal port, developing West Bank industrial zones, and furthering the new West Bank city of Rawabi among the infrastructures he wanted to advance.

He said that Israelis and Palestinians must learn to get along with one another. “We will live side by side, no one is going anywhere.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett speaks at the annual regional security conference at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center on June 22, 2017. (Oded Carni)
Education Minister Naftali Bennett speaks at the annual regional security conference at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center on June 22, 2017. (Oded Carni)

Bennett stressed that Hezbollah remained Israel’s main security threat.

He said that the Iran-allied Lebanese group had grown “from a relatively small group in the 1990s… into a monster. Today we are talking about some 130,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israel’s cities.”

Bennett said that Israel needs to accept that Hezbollah and the Lebanese government are one and the same.

“The problem in the Second Lebanon War was we were told to go after Hezbollah, but to leave Lebanon alone,” he said of the 2006 war. Once everyone understands that “Hezbollah is part and parcel of Lebanon and the Lebanese government,” then “we can prevent the next war, and if it still breaks out drastically shorten it.”

With regard to the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the Hamas terror organization, Bennett said it was in Israel’s best interest to postpone or prevent war. However, if war does break out, Israel must “end it decisively and quickly,” he said.

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