Herzliya (TPS) – Education Minister and Chairman of the Jewish Home Party Naftali Bennett told a counter-terrorism conference Monday that Israel is the world’s “front post” in the battle against terror.
“No nation is as threatened by terror as we are,” Bennett told the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism annual conference. “We’ve got Hezbollah in the north, we’ve got Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria, we have ISIS in Sinai, we have Hamas in Gaza – four of our frontiers with the deadliest terror organizations in the world, yet we’re thriving and we’re leading the battle because we’re here and we’re not going anywhere.”
“By being here we collect intelligence, methodologies, lessons learned, and we’re out there fighting day in and day out,” Bennett added.
However, Bennett also said that Israel and its leading role in the battle against global terrorism was being undermined by many in the international community pushing for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
“My one request from you coming from all around the world is don’t push us to divide our country. Don’t try and break us. Back us,” Bennett concluded.
Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni, who spoke after Bennett, said Israel must take action for a regional peace move against radical religious organizations operating in the Middle East.
“Israel must seize the regional opportunity that exists now with the moderate Arab states, which see Iran and ISIS as a common enemy,” said Livni. “This axis will change the Israel’s security and strategic status.”
Livni, who previously served as foreign minister, argued that the window of opportunity for Israel to act will soon close.
“This opportunity will not be available for long,” she argued. We must not miss it. It’s a matter of timing and the timing is now.”
Israel has already made progress in crafting relations with many Arab states, including some like Saudi Arabia that do not officially recognize the state of Israel. Israeli and Saudi dignitaries have met several times, and last year Israel opened a diplomatic mission in the United Arab Emirates.
Livni, who finds herself at stark odds with Bennett in her strong support for a two-state solution with the Palestinian Authority, expressed hope and optimism for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as long as the resolution stemmed only from the national aspect, not from the religious one.
“Regarding the Palestinians, we unfortunately have the expression of both national and religious conflicts,” said Livni. “Those who claim them to be the same and mix them together, have turned a national conflict that will hopefully be resolved, into a religious conflict that is unsolvable, which will take place inside Israel between Jews and Muslims.
“That we must prevent,” Livni said.