Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, on Sunday, reiterated and expanded criticism of remarks by American Secretary of State, John Kerry, last week, which implied the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was responsible for the Islamic State terror group’s recruiting successes.
Asserting, “I will not be silent,” Bennett said in a Facebook post, that, “The notion regarding the centrality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not true and puts Israel at risk,” and called to “immediately and forcefully dismiss this dangerous theory.”
Kerry speaking at a State Department reception on Thursday for the Muslim Eid al-Adha festival, said that, “the truth is we – there wasn’t a leader I met with in the region who didn’t raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation that they felt – and I see a lot of heads nodding – they had to respond to.”
Kerry was referring to meetings he held at an international fund-raising conference held in Cairo last week at which $5.4 billion was pledged for reconstruction in Gaza, after this summer’s Operation Protective Edge, mean to to halt incessant rocket fire into Israel.
Bennett, however, in a broadside in his post, replied in part, that, “The creation of ISIS had nothing to do with Israel. ISIS’s military gains in Iraq and Syria have nothing to do with Israel. The intense hatred between Sunni & Shiite Muslims has nothing to do with Israel.”
Listing global Islamic terror attacks and upheaval throughout the Arab world, Bennett said, “The 9/11 attacks had nothing to do with Israel. Global Jihad has nothing to do with Israel. Al-Sisi’s revolution in Egypt had nothing to do with Israel. The disintegration of Iraq has nothing to do with Israel. The massacre of at least 150,000 people, including women and children, by Assad in Syria has nothing to do with Israel.”
Bennett called the concept “not just wrong,” but “dangerous for the State of Israel. If Israel is the source of the region’s troubles, then we might as well get rid of Israel. Who needs the headache?”
Bennett charged that “Radical Islam is trying to create Caliphates – an Islamic Kingdom – throughout the entire Middle East. That is their goal. They have been declaring this for years. Hamas says the same. So does Hezbollah in Lebanon. Al-Qaida as well.
“Now ISIS, the new Sunni group in the neighborhood, has joined the club.
“This is the true story,” he wrote. “Even when we are speaking to the United States – our best friend and strongest ally – we need to tell the truth. This is why I will not be silent,” Bennett concluded.
Meanwhile, however, Israeli Defense Minister, Moshe Ya’alon on Sunday tried to play up Israeli – American military collaboration, as he and an entourage made their way to Washington and meetings this week with Pentagon counterparts.
“The United States assists Israel on a variety of issues and on security matters, of course,” Ya’alon said in a statement.
“We should remember this fact and appreciate the US and the American leadership for this unwavering support. Our security systems share an unprecedented intimacy to a great extent which are supremely important for the state of Israel. The relations are based on common interests and shared values and those should not be overshadowed by any disagreement of any sort. I personally work very closely with defense secretary [Chuck] Hagel.”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who heads the Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) party, on Saturday, also praised bilateral relations with the US, possibly in a swipe at Bennett, who heads the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party.
“When our ammunition supplies ran out during Operation Protective Edge, it was the US who sent us more,” he said. “It was the Americans who gave us money that enabled us to develop Iron Dome. It was the US who voted along with us in the UN Human Rights Council. And the one who prevents many problems for Israel in the UN Security Council is the US with its veto power.”
In response to initial criticism of Kerry by Bennett, State Department deputy spokesperson, Marie Harf, on Friday said that Bennett pulled Kerry’s remarks out of context “for political reasons.”
“[Kerry] did not make a link between the growth of ISIL and Israel, period,” Harf said, calling Bennet’s take “…a wrong reading of [Kerry’s] comments.”
“Asserting that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reinforces ISIS, gives a boost to global terrorism,” Bennett had slammed Kerry on Friday.
“It turns out that even when a British Muslim beheads a British Christian, there will always be those who blame the Jews,” Bennett said, referring to the recent murders of British citizens by ISIS terrorists.