| 2 December 2023, Saturday |

Gantz rules out attack on Iran

After his failure in the elections, outgoing Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, delivered a speech to sum up his tenure, stressing that Israel “is capable of attacking Iran,” but expects the next prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to act in a balanced manner.

Speaking to military reporters, Gantz said he thinks Netanyahu “will be level-headed” in his dealings with Iran.

“Israel has the ability to act in Iran. We have the readiness, development capabilities, and long-term plans we are managing. We need to prepare for this possibility, and we will also need to consider this issue very carefully before carrying it out,” he added.

His statements came in parallel with warnings in Tel Aviv, in the wake of the extreme right’s victory in the elections. A number of deputies aspiring to hold high ministerial portfolios, including Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, talked about “changing the reality” at Al-Aqsa Mosque and imposing Israeli sovereignty over the settlements.

Military and security experts and journalists have also warned of a security deterioration in the Palestinian territories, leading to a third intifada.

Gantz was speaking Wednesday morning in a “farewell meeting” with the military correspondents of the Hebrew media, when news was published of an Israeli bombing of an oil convoy at the Iraqi-Syrian border, which led to the death of 15 people.

While he did not touch on the incident, he said: “Iran has been behaving in an excessively daring manner recently,” after strengthening its relations with Russia, and the exacerbation of conflicts between the great powers.

He continued: “This… increasing self-confidence will have an impact on the entire Middle East region.”

Gantz praised the regional cooperation that Israel maintains with countries in the Middle East, saying: “About 200 meetings have taken place between Israel and officials in the countries of the region, since the signing [of the Abraham Accords.”

  • Asharq Al-Awsat