JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli leaders realize it may be up to Israel to address the growing threat of Iran in the Middle East. Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett addressed those concerns when he came to the CBN News Bureau in Washington, DC.
Bennett told CBN News when you look at the Middle East big picture, you see Iran all over.
"Iran [is] basically sending its arms sort of like an octopus trying to create regional domination and subjugate the various people there and it's the big battle of this decade – at least between radical Islam and rational players and Israel together and we're fighting radical Islam," he said.
Those rational players alongside Israel include the Sunni Arab nations of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. They see Shiite Iran bringing more countries under its influence. Example: Iran's defense minister said Iraq is now part of the new Persian Empire.
"What we're seeing is that Iran is trying to create a regional hegemony from Tehran, through Iraq, through Syria and ultimately Lebanon and the Mediterranean in order to create an empire, a Persian, radical Islamic empire," Bennett explained.
"This would be a threat not only to the region – to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the rational players, and of course Israel – but to the world because their goal is to dominate ultimately and subjugate the entire region and thereafter the world with this radical Islamic, fanatical ideology," he said. "We will not let that happen."
Bennett warns any provocation by Iran's proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon would be an act of war.
"We view the state of Lebanon [as] responsible for any shooting of Hezbollah from within its territory on Israel," he said. "So to be very clear, if Hezbollah shoots rockets from Lebanon to Haifa or Tel Aviv and Jerusalem that is tantamount to a declaration of war between the state of Lebanon and the State of Israel and we will retaliate, we will fight back, not only Hezbollah, but also the state of Lebanon."
Bennett sees the U.S. as Israel's ally in the battle against Iran.
"We know that the United States is also very clear about preventing Iran from becoming a regional empire," he said.
"My message to the American people is Israel is strong. Israel is trying to be a light unto [the] nations," he continued. "We're in a tough location. We're surrounded by hundreds of millions of radical Islamists who want to destroy not only Israel but much of the world. So by strengthening Israel, in fact, we're strengthening the free world because Israel is at the forefront of the battle [against] medieval Islam and modernity and the free world. And we will win."