Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett is calling for an end to US military aid to Israel. “Today, US military aid is roughly 1 percent of Israel’s economy,” he told The Jewish Press.
“I think, generally, we need to free ourselves from it. We have to do it responsibly, since I’m not aware of all the aspects of the budget, I don’t want to say ‘let’s just give it up,’ but our situation today is very different from what it was 20 and 30 years ago. Israel is much stronger, much wealthier, and we need to be independent.”
As for the economy and defense spending, Bennett says, “The reality is that we have a big deficit. We’re going to have to cut the defense budget, which has doubled over the past decade from $8 billion to $16.4 billion a year. Contrary to what many think, some military threats have actually been reduced. Today’s Egyptian army has no offensive capability – it’s in dire straits. Syria is in no position to send forces into Israel. We can cut there.”
Asked if he would have to give up his US citizenship, should he become prime minister, Bennett said, “I’m not becoming prime minister quite yet, but, obviously, I’ll follow the law, if I’ll need to forfeit it, like Netanyahu has done.”
Asked about President Barack Obama’s nomination of Senator John Kerry for Secretary of State and former Senator Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, Bennett said, “I think it’s none of our business in Israel to intervene in American domestic decisions. President Obama gave us his word most vehemently that he would prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon – he said it several times over the past year. He said he has Israel’s back. So I hope and trust that President Obama will follow through on these very powerful commitments.”