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Bennett: Iran deal will lead to ‘more violent’ Middle East

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addresses the Conference of Presidents meeting in Jerusalem on February 20, 2022. (Screenshot)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addresses the Conference of Presidents meeting in Jerusalem on February 20, 2022. (Screenshot)

Speaking in Jerusalem to the Conference of Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says the emerging Iran deal will lead to “a more violent, more volatile Middle East.”

The biggest problem is the sunset clause, which in two and a half years allows Iran to install and operate advanced centrifuges, he says. He emphasizes that Israel is not automatically against a deal, but the deal taking shape in Vienna strengthens Tehran at the wrong time.

“Right now they are very weak. The rial has depreciated. They are at their weakest spot in history, and we are going to pour tens of billions of dollars back into this apparatus of terror,” warns Bennett.

The prime minister warns that access to funds will give Iran more UAVs, more attacks on shipping, and more attacks on Israel.

“Iran is asking to let the biggest terror organization on earth off the hook,” he says of Tehran’s demands that the IRGC be delisted as a terror organization. “One way or another, I have no doubt that Israel will prevail with whatever circumstances we face,” he says to applause.

Bennett says that Iran wants to close “the open files of the” International Atomic Energy Agency. “If Iran gets its way on the inspectors, it would be a profound blow to the organization, he says. “Iran is in a very advanced phase of its uranium enrichment process,” says the prime minister. “This is the hand we were dealt. It is what it is. There is no point playing the blame game right now,” he says.

In a swipe at his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu, Bennett says that Israel has prioritized rebuilding relations with its neighbors, and is committed to working with legislators from both parties.

“Israel is becoming bipartisan once again,” he says.

Relations with US President Joe Biden and the administration will remain close and robust despite disagreements over the Iran deal, Bennett pledges, noting the Republican and Democratic lawmakers who are in Israel this week.

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