Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White) took part in Monday’s meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, chaired by MK Zvi Hauser. The meeting was confidential apart from the opening remarks. Hauser noted that this was the first time a defense minister has appeared before the committee since November 2018, and said the security challenges Israel faces require “political stability and unity.”
The State of Israel, Committee Chairman Hauser stated, “does not have the option” of dispersing the Knesset and entering a fourth election. MK Hauser praised Minister Gantz for supporting his bill to delay the dispersal of the Knesset.
“While we were busy with three dirty election rounds and an economic and health crisis, Iran and its satellite [organizations], Hezbollah and Hamas, did not go into hibernation. Our enemies [desperately want our] instability. Khamenei is hoping for another round of elections. Nasrallah hopes for the Lebanonization of Israel. If we do not regain our composure immediately, we will give them what they want on a silver platter.”
Gantz said, “The Middle East reality is a reality that is weakening. Uncertainty and instability have been accompanying it for about a decade. The interests of the various superpowers are at play here, and the State of Israel must insist on relations with the region’s countries and the world’s superpowers, and make certain that in this time of instability, we do not go into a tailspin, and remain stable and strong.
“We must act together with the countries of the world to harm Iran and affect what goes on in Iran,” Gantz stated. “Iran continues to strive for nuclear [weapons]. It has extensions in many countries around the world and in the region. We mustn’t ignore this danger. Continued pressure on Iran and a determined act on our part to continue the embargo that is imposed on it is a goal of utmost importance. Iran is interested in opening a terror branch in Syria, and we must prevent it. Using a variety of methods, we are operating against Iran’s [attempts] to become established in Syria and in other places in the region.
“We have bitter and determined rivals in the region – such are the terror organizations, headed by Hezbollah and Nasrallah. While Nasrallah is our biggest enemy from the north, he is Lebanon’s biggest problem. We saw the disaster that happened in Lebanon. The State of Israel offered help and assistance,” Minister Gantz told the committee. The Lebanon blast, he explained, could have been worse because Hezbollah keeps explosives in the homes of civilians. “The fact that in Lebanon there are homes with a guest room and a missile room will make Lebanese society pay a heavy price,” he said.
Gantz stressed that Israel has “zero interests” in Gaza, “apart from total calm and the return of the boys.” He added, “We would be glad to see Gaza flourishing. I would also be glad to see workers coming from the Gaza Strip. It can happen on one condition – that the boys return home. When we’ll see that happening, we will be able to develop the Gaza Strip.”