Outgoing Defense Minister of Israel Benny Gantz spoke to more than 100 reporters gathered at the Jewish Media Summit in Jerusalem. His remarks were made on Monday evening at the conference’s opening gala night and annual Hanukkah-lighting ceremony.

Gantz took the opportunity to comment on Israel’s ties to the Jewish Diaspora in light of the country’s recent elections.

“The ties that were forged between us over 3,000 years ago,” Gantz said, “are stronger than any single leader, government or event. It is the responsibility of both the government of Israel and Jewish leaders around the world to recognize and integrate all the streams of Judaism. Only united, can we ensure our continuity and our resilience in Israel and around the world.”

On Israel’s recent elections and criticisms being hurled at Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, Gantz stated, “I respect the democratic process and the results of this process in Israel—the only true democracy in the Middle East region. Our partners and friends, however entitled to their opinions, should not interfere in Israel’s internal politics.”

Gantz also took the opportunity to sound the alarm on the Islamic Republic of Iran and the threat that regime poses to Israel and regional stability.

“Iran is first a global and regional threat,” said Gantz, “and then it is a threat to the State of Israel. I believe his order to be true because Iran harms its own people, including violent attacks against innocent women protesting peacefully, it is a threat to the stability of the region, and to global peace and order as we know it.”

Gantz added that Israel must push its international partners to construct a powerful deterrent against Iran, in the same vein as NATO rallies support around Ukraine.

“The timing is critical,” Gantz said, “now that Iran faces internal social and economic difficulties, when Iran faces pushback for its role in providing weapons to attack Ukraine, when it hasn’t yet reached the point of no return in its nuclear progress. We must deepen military, intelligence and diplomatic cooperation with partners, we must involve Jewish organizations, and increase dialogue around this challenge. The nuclear threat cannot fall from the global agenda. The time has come to place serious pressure on the Iranians in order to achieve a new and improved agreement.”

JNS

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