M r. Bennett, you were seen together with the Adelsons at the IAC, as well as last June at the grand opening of the new medical school at Ariel University. Would you say this is indicative of greater cooperation between you and Sheldon Adelson?

I think the Israeli public should give credit to the Adelsons for their massive contributions to the future of the Jewish People and to the State of Israel. They are currently the biggest supporters of Birthright, as well as the founders of the IAC, whose goal is to strengthen Israelis in the US and organize them into a cohesive community nationwide. They also support higher education in Israel, and I admire them for that. I truly believe that they will be remembered as among the greatest philanthropists in the history of the Jewish People.

Yes, but how do you explain the fact that you were seen twice together on stage at a festive event? Serendipity?

I don’t think it has to be construed as anything political. It was my pleasure to honor them and to honor such a landmark event.

During closed conversations with Middle East special envoy Jason Greenblatt and lawmakers, you said that Israel lost the Second Lebanon War in part because then–secretary of state Condoleezza Rice insisted that Israel refrain from causing collateral damage during the offensive against Hezbollah. Do you think you’ll succeed in convincing the Trump administration to adopt the Israeli policy that holds Beirut accountable for any new aggression on the part of Hezbollah?

Israel is endeavoring to clarify to the entire world, and especially to the Lebanese themselves, that since Hezbollah is the de facto ruler in Lebanon, Israel holds the Lebanese government responsible for any attack emanating from its northern border. Any hostilities against Israel will elicit an immediate, harsh response. Israel will not hesitate to do what is necessary to protect its people.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon have stated recently that they will not be part of a coalition that includes Avi Gabbay, who leads the Labor Party. Do you likewise disqualify Gabbay as a coalition partner?

I won’t ever be part of a leftist government, and Gabbay is the head of the left-wing party, so that’s a nonstarter. That said, I don’t rule him out as a partner in a coalition that I am part of, or that I’d lead.

Trump is actively seeking ways to achieve a breakthrough for a peace agreement. Are you concerned?

Peace negotiations never bothered us. With the new reality of Palestinian unity, we were the driving force behind the Cabinet’s decision not to negotiate until Hamas recognizes Israel’s right to exist and demilitarizes. For all intents and purposes, I believe that any negotiations leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state are a mistake and a waste of time. Even worse, negotiations raise false hopes, causing bitter disappointment and possibly sparking new rounds of violence. I’ve been consistently promoting an alternative strategy based on strengthening the Israeli and Palestinian economies. I have also advocated my sovereignty plan, which calls for annexing Area C unilaterally while strengthening Palestinian autonomy in areas A and B. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 685)