Defense Minister Benny Gantz participated on Thursday in the Aspen Security Forum, in a “fireside chat” moderated by editor of The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg. The discussion focused on the impact of the Abraham Accords two years after their signing.
During the discussion, Gantz said, “The Abraham Accords enable us to expand our relations [with regional partners] in security aspects, in business to business [frameworks], organizations to organizations, and people to people. And of course we are creating a regional architecture for defense.”
He added, “Israel was moved from EUCOM to CENTCOM – and we use it as a strategic umbrella. Since the signing of the accords, there have been hundreds of meetings and discussions with regional partners, and Israel has participated in at least 10 multinational exercises with regional partners. I am very happy that the U.S. has led this and that the region’s leaders have realized and taken this opportunity. We are creating a better Middle East.”
Regarding Iran, Minister Gantz said, “Iran is first a global challenge, then a regional challenge and only lastly it is a threat to the State of Israel. We can see it everywhere around the world – the Iranian impact in Venezuela, Algeria, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen. The Saudis and the Emiratis also suffer from Iranian attacks, Iran does not only pose a threat to the State of Israel.”
He added, “The countries of the region understand that Israel is here to stay and that Israel is not a burden but rather an asset. Our excellent relations with the US can be used as a bridge. Israel does not threaten the countries of the region, while Iran does. We can see Iran’s malign activity in the region without a nuclear canopy, without nuclear deterrence. Imagine what they would do with it. And that’s why we cannot let Iran become a nuclear [state].”
“At the same time, I do not know of another country that has another country, in this case Iran, threatening its existence and building the means to do so. The government and leadership of Israel has a historic responsibility to build our capabilities and to prevent Iran from becoming nuclear.”
Regarding the Palestinian issue, Minister Gantz said, “I believe that we can leverage the Abraham Accords and ties with regional partners in order to strengthen the Palestinian Authority and promote confidence-building measures. From a Jewish, Zionist, and democratic perspective, I would like to see a better future between us and the Palestinians and that includes separating from the Palestinians.”
"I think the Abraham Accords can today help strengthen the Palestinian Authority, and build a reality of separation and two entities," Gantz stated.
"I see this as a Zionist matter and Israel must be a safe, democratic and Jewish state," he added.