MESOP MIDEAST WATCH: Bennett to ‘Post’: Israel will continue its strategy to stop Iran even if there’s a deal 

“We will protect ourselves by ourselves. Even if there is an agreement, we’re not committed to it. We will preserve our freedom to act.”


Israel will follow its strategy to combat Iranian aggression regardless of whether world powers reach an agreement with the Islamic Republic in the negotiations in Vienna, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post this week that appears in full on page 13.

“The Israeli strategy doesn’t depend on whether there’s an agreement or not,” Bennett stated. “We will protect ourselves by ourselves. Even if there is an agreement, we’re not committed to it. We will preserve our freedom to act.”

Bennett spoke as talks continue with Iran to return to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. “We and the Americans don’t see everything eye to eye,” said Bennett, speaking out against easing sanctions on Iran.

“A deal that will send tens of billions of dollars to this rotten and weak regime will be a mistake, because this money will go to terror against IDF soldiers and Americans in the region,” Bennett stated. “When the money enters Iranian coffers, they attack American soldiers… through their proxies.”

Iran is very weak, with its currency depleted, regions of the country lacking water, and are large demonstrations taking place against the government. Tehran, Bennett said, “is playing poker with a very weak hand, but they’re bluffing.”

Israel has relayed the message to its friends in the US and Europe who are negotiating with Iran that the mullahs’ regime should not get “a tailwind of money,” the prime minister said.

“The last thing you do to a terror state like this is to give them tens of billions of dollars,” Bennett stated. “You should do the opposite – you have to weaken them, set them a choice between the continued pursuit of nuclear weapons or the regime itself.”

One part of Bennett’s strategy is “to keep Iran significantly far from nuclear breakout forever.”

The prime minister repeated his comparison of Iran to an octopus, whose head is in Tehran and whose tentacles surrounding Israel are Hezbollah in Lebanon, militias on Israel’s border with Syria, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and to a lesser extent Hamas in Gaza.

In the past, he said, “Israel fell into the trap and fought the octopus’s tentacles tactically. But the octopus itself is Iran. My doctrine states that in this Cold War between Iran and Israel, I won’t allow it to be one-sided. I want to weaken them and hurt their forces in all dimensions. They have no business in our region, 1,000 kilometers from home. I don’t want to see Iran in Syria or on any border of ours.”