Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu offered rare praise for his successor Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday, saying he was glad Bennett was adopting a harder line on Iran.
Netanyahu noted that when Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid first took over, they said they would only voice their differences with the international community on Iran behind closed doors. But recently, Bennett has been vocal in his criticism, even of US President Joe Biden’s administration.
“Now they supposedly sound different,” Netanyahu said. “I say supposedly, because it is too little, too mixed up and too weak. No one in the world is taking them into account. The powers of the world know that Israel has a government that is weak, confused and helpless.”
Netanyahu told his Likud faction in the Knesset that there is only one possible agreement with Iran that can be considered.
“The only agreement that is acceptable is an agreement that would dismantle Iran’s nuclear capability,” Netanyahu said. Without such an agreement, Israel must be prepared to take action on its own against the Iranian nuclear program.”
In criticism of the Biden administration, the former prime minister said that “if the United States is not prepared to present Iran with a credible military threat, Israel must do it.”
Netanyahu blamed recent terror attacks and the rise in crime in the Arab sector on “the weakness of the government.” He said Tehran and the international community that wants to return to the “dangerous agreement with Iran” see that weakness, too.
“They are disregarding this government because they see there is no hard-line, no policy and no determined stance,” he said.
Lapid downplayed differences with the US on Iran at a meeting of his Yesh Atid faction.
“There is no daylight between us and this American administration because we have a common goal of preventing this Iranian regime from becoming a nuclear threshold state,” Lapid said. “The dialogue we have with President Biden and Secretary Blinken is constructive. There is no tension. There is dialogue.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said he was looking forward to discussing the Iran issue with his American counterpart Lloyd Austin and with Blinken when he leaves for the US on Wednesday.
“I am confident that we can advance steps that will stop Iran and its affiliated groups,” Gantz said.