Bennett's interview with Amanpour of CNN
Bennett's interview with Amanpour of CNNSpokesperson

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was interviewed on Wednesday by Christiane Amanpour of CNN and grilled on the latest wave of violence and its implications for his and his government's political future.

Asked to explain why he allowed IDF soldiers to enter the Al Aqsa Mosque, given the fact that the footage is then broadcast over the world and inflames tensions, Bennett replied, "As usual, you're starting in the middle of the story.

"Last Friday, 300 Palestinians barricaded themselves on the Temple Mount, preventing other Muslims from praying," Bennett continued, as Amanpour grimaced. "My responsibility is to ensure freedom of religion for everyone, and that's why I was obligated to send in police officers ... enabling 80 thousand Muslims to pray there peacefully afterward... I had to send in policemen to remove the rioters. And it worked.

"When faced with violence you have to act tough," Bennett added.

Amanpour continued to press Bennett on Israel's response to Arab violence, introducing her comments with the statement that, "The West Bank has been occupied since 1967, settlers are allowed to be there ... they are there and they are violent, this minority, and it is generally deemed illegal by the rest of the world.

"What you've been projecting is blatantly false," responded Bennett. "I object to the symmetry you're trying to create here ... who's getting murdered? We're not seeing Israelis murdering Palestinians."

Over Amanpour's protests, the Prime Minister continued:

"I also object - these are not occupied territories, these are territories in dispute and we have claim to our own place as well as them - I get it, no one's going anywhere, we have to figure out how to live together."

Later in the interview, Amanpour alleged that, "There doesn't seem to be any attempt to end the actual conflict" on the part of Israel, and accused Bennett of "not spending any energy and political capital with this diverse coalition to actually end this conflict."

Bennett replied that "the way the facts were presented [by Amanpour] was not accurate.

"Israel is peaceful," he said. "About a month ago, unfortunately, a new wave of terror was thrown upon the Israeli public. We lost 14 people in four terror attacks. In Tel Aviv center, Arab Muslim terrorists, some of them affiliated with ISIS, came with rifles and started shooting people on the street. This is unacceptable.

"I object to the notion of 'both sides.' When they don't attack us, we have no issue with them. But when they do attack us, I have to fight back and hit them at their terror bases. That's what any leader would do and that's what I'm doing."

Bennett explained that when Israel pulled out of Gaza over a decade ago, pulling back to the '67 lines, “What we got in return is hell, tens of thousands of rockets shot at us.

“I’m not in the business of playing experiments on the Israeli people," he stressed. "What I am doing is people to people peace. Bottom up. Getting more jobs for Palestinians, better paying jobs. Improving the economy. That’s what I believe in. And I have to say the Palestinians are experiencing unprecedented prosperity.”