Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addressed the United Nations General Assembly Monday afternoon, focusing on what he described as Israel’s achievements in an uncertain, difficult time.

In his first major foreign address, Bennett struck an optimistic tone, arguing that Israel can already “see the horizon” marking the end of the two “plagues” facing the world: COVID and political polarization.

“There are two plagues that are challenging the very fabric of society at this moment. One is the coronavirus, which has killed over 5 million people around the globe, the other, has also shaken the world as we know it — it’s the disease of political polarization,” Bennett said.

“Both coronavirus and polarization can erode public trust in our institutions, both can paralyze nations. If left unchecked, their effects on society can be devastating. In Israel, we faced both, and rather than accept them as a force of nature, we stood up, took action, and we can already see the horizon.”

The Israeli premier cited the formation of his government as proof Israel has moved beyond worsening polarization, calling it a step towards restoring normalcy, and touting his coalition as the ‘most diverse’ in Israel’s history.

“In a polarized world, where algorithms fuel our anger, people on the Right and on the Left operate in two separate realities, each in their own social media bubble, they hear only the voices that confirm what they already believe in.”

“In Israel, after four elections in two years, with a fifth looming, the people yearned for an antidote: Calm. Stability. An honest attempt for political normalcy.”

“About a hundred days ago my partners and I formed a new government in Israel. The most diverse government in our history. What started as a political accident, can now turn into a purpose. And that purpose is unity.”

Turning to the coronavirus, Bennett said his government had abandoned the use of lockdowns and heavy reliance on mass restrictions, emphasizing instead mass vaccination.

“The Israeli model has three guiding principles: One — the country must stay open.”

“We all paid a huge price: an economic price, a physical price and an emotional price—for bringing life to a standstill in 2020. Lockdowns, restrictions, quarantines – cannot work in the long run.”

“The second rule: vaccinate early. Right from the start, Israelis were quick to get vaccinated. We are in a race against a deadly virus and we must try to be ahead of it.”

“In July we were the first to learn that the vaccines were waning—which is what brought a surge in Delta cases. It was then when my government decided to administer a third dose of vaccine—the booster—to the Israeli public.”

“We pioneered the booster shot. Two months in I can report that it works.”

“The third rule: Adapt and move quickly. Running a country during a pandemic is not only about health. It's about carefully balancing all aspects of life that are affected by corona, especially Jobs and education. The only person that has a good vantage point of all of this – is the national leader of any given country.”

On the security front, Bennett emphasized the Iranian threat, pointing to both Iran’s atomic aspirations and its support for terrorist groups.

“Israel is, quite literally, surrounded by Hezbollah, Shia militias, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas.”

“What do they all have in common? They all want to destroy my country, and they're all backed by Iran.
They get their funding from Iran, they get their training from Iran, and they get their weapons from Iran.”

“Iran seeks to dominate the region — and seeks to do so under a nuclear umbrella.”

Bennett called on the international community to take action against Tehran, hinting that Israel might take unilateral steps if necessary.

“Iran’s nuclear program has hit a watershed moment; and so has our tolerance. Words do not stop centrifuges from spinning.”

“There are those in the world who seem to view Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons as an inevitable reality, or they've just become tired of hearing about it. Israel doesn't have that privilege.”

“We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.”

"Iran is much weaker, much more vulnerable than it seems," Bennett said. "It's economy is sinking, its regime is rotting."

"The weaker they are, the more extreme they go to hide their weakness.

"If we put our heads to it, if we're serious about stopping it, if we use our resourcefulness, we can prevail, and that's exactly what we're going to do," he declared.

The Prime Minister praised the Abraham Accords, the peace agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan, saying that they show that not all "is dark in the Middle East."

"At a ripe young age of 73, more and more nations are coming to understand Israel's value and unique place in the world."