Naftali Bennett
Naftali BennettYoni Kempinski

Education Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday participated in International Institute for Counter-Terrorism’s (ICT) 17th annual international conference in Herzliya.

"I believe that [the result] of a nuclear Iran would not be a Cold War, like between the US and Russia. The threat could damage the essence of Zionism as a safe home for the Jewish people. This cannot be allowed. The focus on the conventional threats facing Israel cannot overshadow the nuclear threat," Bennett said.

Bennett added that Israel expects the US to focus on non-proliferation. "Most western countries make a mistake in focusing on the threat of ISIS, which is not an existential danger. Defeating ISIS is important, but you have to keep the focus on Iran."

The Education Minister was asked about his actions during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, when he visited soldiers in the field, and replied: "As for my visiting the field, I do not regret it. I only regret that I did not go deeper. Our responsibility was to acquire information. There is no substitute for the direct contact with the commanders in the field."

He also fielded a question about what the target should be if there is another round of fighting with Hamas in Gaza. "The fact is that the State of Israel takes the position of severing permanent contact [with the enemy] instead of striving for contact and victory. When I was a company commander, Hezbollah was on the defensive, and when we left, we got a much stronger organization, a small army. We broke off a again, and it grew stronger again. There is now a corps exercise against this [terrorist] organization. When there is constant contact, it is possible to overcome, like in Judea and Samaria. The final disengagement from Gaza was in 2005. The State of Israel must move from being cut off to establishing constant contact, so that it will emerge victorious."

"Let me be clear - we are not interested in war. War is terrible, and we must certainly exhaust all political options in order to avoid war," Bennett said.

Bennett also addressed the Syrian civil war and Russia's role in Syria. "We will defend ourselves by ourselves.

The Education Minister recalled the 9/11 attacks and said that at the time of the attack he was at the headquarters of his start-up company in Manhattan. Bennett noted that the lesson he learned from that day is that "there is no limit to human evil"