Israel’s Bennett Says World ‘Safer’ Without Slain Iran Scientist

Israeli prime ministerial hopeful Naftali Bennett declared the world a safer place following the assassination of a top Iranian nuclear scientist killed in an ambush widely ascribed to Israel.

Bennett, a lawmaker, told Bloomberg TV he isn’t privy to who killed Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, but he applauded the act, which Tehran has said bears Israel’s fingerprints.

“This guy was not just a ticking bomb, he was a ticking nuclear bomb, and the world is safer without him,” said Bennett, leader of the Yamina bloc who briefly served as defense minister in a previous government and now sits in the opposition.

Israel’s Bennett Says World ‘Safer’ Without Slain Iran Scientist

Israel has cheered the Trump administration’s campaign against Iran and views with trepidation U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s declared aim to rejoin the nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic that Washington quit 2 1/2 years ago.

The Trump administration put “a tremendous amount of effort” into stopping Iran and its nuclear ambitions, Bennett said. “I’m sure President-elect Biden does not desire to have Iran go nuclear on his term, so these are the sort of things we’re going to be discussing with a Biden administration.”

Iran denies its nuclear program has a military component. After Trump withdrew from the accord and other partners were unable to offer promised relief from sanctions, Iran abandoned caps on enriched uranium that were set down in the deal to restrict its ability to acquire bomb-making capabilities.

Bennett’s popularity has soared as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s has slipped over his botched handling of the coronavirus crisis. On Wednesday, the government edged toward collapse after parliament voted to disband in a preliminary vote, setting off a process that could lead to the fourth national election in two years.

“Israel does need to restore its energy, restore its vigor and be strong the way we were,” he said. “We do need new leadership in Israel.”

Polls indicate Bennett’s nationalist Yamina alliance could gain significant ground in a new ballot. A survey published Wednesday by Channel 13 found Yamina winning 22 of parliament’s 120 seats, up from five currently and second only to Netanyahu’s Likud, with 29.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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