Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday vowed Israel will never hold itself back from striking its enemies in self-defense if necessary.
“The State of Israel will always defend itself against any external threat and will not hold itself back from ensuring our security,” Bennett said at a ceremony in Jerusalem marking the anniversary of the death of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism.
He added: “We will act firmly, creatively and consistently against threats both near and far.”
Bennett did not refer to any specific threat but his remarks came as the United States holds talks on rejoining the international accord restricting Iran’s nuclear program, a move Israel opposes.
The new premier last week singled out Iran when vowing not to allow any “existential threat” against Israel. He also hinted at Israeli involvement in a recent attack at an Iranian nuclear site — an alleged drone assault on an Iranian centrifuge production facility outside Tehran which reportedly damaged the site.
Hosting President Reuven Rivlin at the White House on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden vowed that “Iran will never get a nuclear weapon on my watch,” amid growing Israeli apprehension over the American administration’s effort to reenter the nuclear deal.
While Bennett has maintained former premier Benjamin Netanyahu’s line of opposition to the pact — which Israel maintains still allows Tehran to progress toward nuclear weapons and develop ballistic missiles while supporting proxy groups that sow terror abroad — Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has pledged to handle disagreements behind closed doors.
In his speech Wednesday, Bennett also commented on the formation of his power-sharing government with Lapid earlier this month, which saw him replace Netanyahu as prime minister.
“This government was not obvious. It is a beautiful mosaic government,” he said, referring to the broad range of parties in the coalition. “This is a government that I confess, was formed out of political constraints, but every day that passes teaches me that it was a worthy government from the start, A government with disagreements, deliberations, a government that knows how to disagree.”
He said the government was seeking to handle internal divides “quietly, calmly, respectfully and attentively. We not only talk, we also listen to the opposing side.”