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Diplomacy & Politics
GIL HOFFMAN \
Bennett doesn’t yet favor end to US aid
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett 370.
(photo credit:Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett denied reports on Wednesday that he is in
favor of rejecting more than $3 billion in annual military aid from the
US.An interview with JewishPress.com that spread online Wednesday indicated that Bennett wanted to stop US aid to Israel. But Bennett suggested that what he said had been twisted in the headlines.“Today, US military aid is roughly 1 percent of Israel’s
economy,” he said in the interview.“I think, generally, we need to free
ourselves from it. We have to do it responsibly; since I’m not aware of
all the aspects of the budget, I don’t want to say ‘let’s just give it up,’ but
our situation today is very different from what it was 20 and 30 years ago.
Israel is much stronger, much wealthier, and we need to be
independent.”A spokesman for Bennett said on Wednesday night that such a
move could only be made if the threats facing Israel dropped substantially, and
even then only over the course of several years.“This is an idea for the
long-term that is currently irrelevant,” Bennett’s spokesman said. “As a matter
of principle, of course Israel’s dependence on foreign aid is an unhealthy
situation for which we have to pay a diplomatic price. But on the other hand,
with the threats currently facing us, there is no place for changing
policies.”Bayit Yehudi Knesset candidate Jeremy Gimpel said Bennett’s
goal was for Israel to be self-reliant in 10-20 years, due in part to the
success of the natural gas that has been discovered off the coast.By
contrast, Likud Knesset candidate Moshe Feiglin has said repeatedly that Israel
should have forgone American foreign aid many years ago.A Channel 10
investigation of Bennett broadcast on Tuesday revealed many embarrassing details
from his past. The report alleged that he was fired from his former post as
director- general of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the
Gaza Strip, unlike reports that said his departure was amicable.The
investigation also confirmed reports that Bennett had sent an undercover private
investigator to the office of his rival for the Bayit Yehudi leadership, MK
Zevulun Orlev. Bennett’s office declined to comment on the investigation.
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