Bennett: Israel will not restrain itself when defending itself

PM hits back at Netanyahu claim that Lapid pledged to U.S. that Israel had policy of 'no surprises' on Iran response, says Israel will fight any external threat 'without restraint', also downplays claims of disharmony in patchwork coalition, says parties are in agreement on most issues
Gilad Cohen|
Stung by accusations that his government's policy on Iran endangered the country, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett took a tough stance Wednesday, vowing that Israel would not hesitate to take any measures to defend itself.
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  • "Israel will not restrain itself when ensuring its security,” said Bennett at the memorial service for the founder of modern political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, at the Jerusalem site that bears his name.
    "The State of Israel will always defend itself," he said. "We will act resolutely and continuously against any emerging threats, both within and without."
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    נפתלי בנט
    נפתלי בנט
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaking on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem on Wednesday
    (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
    “The Jewish state depends on us, in our ability to preserve it and its unique values and character, its security, economic and social prosperity. We must still remember that the process is not irreversible. We must never rest on our laurels," he said.
    Bennett was speaking after Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that Foreign Minister Yair Lapid had promised the U.S. a policy of "no surprises" regarding Israel's response to the Iranian threat, which the former prime minister claimed could pose a serious threat to Israel’s security.
    Bennett also downplayed reports of internal disputes in his patchwork coalition, made up of eight parties from across Israel's political spectrum, saying that there was broad consensus on most issues under consideration.
    "We are learning how to manage our disagreements. We are managing to understand what we do agree on, and that's a lot. Most of the things that have an impact on our lives are agreed upon by all of us, so we can move forward quickly and harmoniously."
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    יאיר לפיד ואנתוני בלינקן במפגש ראשון ברומא
    יאיר לפיד ואנתוני בלינקן במפגש ראשון ברומא
    Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, left, meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Rome on Tuesday
    (Photo: AP)
    Lapid also rejected Netanyahu’s accusations on Iran, which the foreign minister branded a "dangerous lie."
    "We reserve the right to act against the Iranian nuclear program anywhere, at anytime,” said Lapid.
    “I explained this to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken during our meeting in Rome on Tuesday.”
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    ריבלין בכניסה לבית הלבן
    ריבלין בכניסה לבית הלבן
    Reuven Rivlin and Joe Biden meeting at the White House on Monday
    (Photo: Reuters)
    On Monday, U.S. President Joe Biden hosted Reuven Rivlin on his final foreign trip as president of the State of Israel, promising to his Israeli counterpart that Iran would never get nuclear weapons "on his watch.”
    Biden also told Rivlin that the United States and Israel share the same values of democracy and U.S. support for Israel was "iron clad."
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