"This is the time to act"

Bennett calls for deeds, not words, against Iran in UN speech

Naftali Bennett

Naftali Bennett

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Naftali Bennett, the Israeli prime minister, arrived in New York on Sunday, a day before he was supposed to speak at the United Nations General Assembly.


Traveling abroad on the back of good news is always advantageous for an Israeli leader.

Despite a military incident overnight Saturday in which five of Palestinians were killed and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas demanding that Israel return to its pre-1967 borders or face consequences in a pre-recorded video address to the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, Bennett landed in the United States with at least two feathers in his cap.


The first is the failure last week of a small but loud anti-Israel “squad” in Congress to prevent Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system from receiving $1 billion in funding.


Bennett spoke to reporters before boarding his flight, praising the “sweeping victory” in the United States House of Representatives, which passed a separate bill providing $1 billion in funding for the Iron Dome missile-defense system after a group of Democratic lawmakers forced the provision out of a larger bill.


Bennett stated, "At the moment of truth, we witnessed the representatives of the American people overwhelmingly support Israel, 420 to 9 in the vote on re-arming the Iron Dome." “There is a small anti-Israel group that makes a lot of noise, but they haven't been successful.”

On Thursday, House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and a coalition of pro-Israel Democratic legislators submitted a standalone bill to fund the Iron Dome.

The second feather in Bennett's cap came last week, when over 300 prominent Iraqis made an unprecedented public call for a genuine peace agreement with Israel.


According to many experts and analysts, this shows that the Abraham Accords have demonstrated its worth and stability over the past year, as well as providing potential for future forging and strengthening of connections between Israel and its former foes.


“This is a call that comes from below and not from above, from the people and not from the government,” Bennett tweeted in support of normalizing relations between Israel and Iraq. The state of Israel extends a hand of friendship to you.”


It is noteworthy, however, that Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi formally rejected the call for peace with Israel, stating his public support for the Palestinians.


Bennett, on the other hand, will benefit from these events and will most certainly want to distinguish himself from his predecessor, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

Bennett's speech to the United Nations is scheduled for Monday morning, and his spokeswoman has stated that he will not employ props or visuals, as Netanyahu has done in the past.


 In the prime minister’s entourage in New York, Bennett’s core message with regard to Iran is that “we deal with security through actions. Speeches are important, but this is the time to act.”,according to a source.


While Netanyahu’s main speechwriter was former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, Bennett decided to write his own speech, with some assistance from his staff and advisors.

“It was important to him that the speech be in his voice and reflect what he thinks as accurately as possible,” the source in his entourage explained.


Bennett would not explicitly respond to Abbas' threats, preferring to focus on Israel's achievements and stressing the importance of viewing Israel through a lens that does not always contain the Palestinian issue.


Bennett is “trying to express his true feeling as policy that for 73 years, Israel's role in the world has been all about the conflict, and that is not healthy,” according to the same source. Making us siamese twins with Palestinians is both incorrect and counterproductive. They will not play a significant role in the speech. They will not define our relations with other countries.”


On Sunday evening, Bennett is scheduled to meet with Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani and UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Khalifa Shaheen Almarar.

The prime minister will also meet with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and United States Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, as well as speaking at a Jewish Federations of North America event.