Bennett doesn’t yet favor end to US aid

Bayit Yehudi chairman denies reports that he is in favor of rejecting more than $3b. in annual military aid from the US.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
January 9, 2013 23:59
1 minute read.
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett

Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)

 
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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.

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“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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