Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White) spoke Sunday at the Haaretz-UCLA conference about Israel’s current strategic challenges and the opportunities faced by Israel and its partners in a changing Middle East.

“The international community, led by the US, EU and partners in the Middle East should invest their goodwill and resources in improving Palestinian life and economy,” Gantz emphasized.

He also noted the groundbreaking normalization accords, saying, “This is a time when I am more hopeful than ever that we can multiply the success of these accords. These agreements are critical so that the region may flourish and so that we may stand strong against common threats.”

On the issue of the threat Iran presents to the Middle East, Israel, and the international community as a whole, he said: “Iran sees itself as a hegemon, systematically equipping 'terror armies' and exporting its radical ideology, weapons, funds and manpower across the Middle East. They target economic resources as we saw in the Aramco attack, disrupt global trade as we saw in the Mercer Street attack, harm democratic processes as we saw in the Iraqi elections and dismantle regimes as we see in Lebanon and Syria.”

“I support an agreement that will be broader, stronger and longer – taking Iran back, dismantling its current capabilities and placing effective inspections on its sites and on its weapons production,” Gantz added.

Gantz also discussed the opportunity to strengthen ties with the Palestinian Authority, explaining: “As I see it, we have an opportunity to build trust between Israel and the Palestinians, taking measures on the ground that will contribute to security, stability, and economic prosperity – steps that will benefit both sides.”

“At a time of both great optimism and increasing threats in the region, the international community, led by the US, EU and partners in the Middle East should invest their goodwill and resources in improving Palestinian life and economy. This will contribute to peace and stability and enable us to continue building the foundation for our common future.”

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