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Israel's minister of education: "We're surrounded by the craziest people in the world"

On DW's "Conflict Zone," Bennett explained why in his opinion "there's no place better on earth for Arabs than in Israel." But he said he would defend himself "when hundreds of Muslims are out to kill me and my family."

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Naftali Bennett on DW's "Conflict Zone"

Amid violent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians, Naftali Bennet said he saw a "beautiful Jewish democracy" endangered by Palestinians.

In what he called the "toughest interview I have ever faced," Bennett said: "We're in a very tough reality while we're surrounded by the craziest people in the world. (…) When hundreds of Muslims - of radical Islamic terrorists, are out to kill me and my family – yes, I will defend myself. And, you know what: I am not going to apologize for it. I am proud of it."

The minister said: "I'm not suggesting to form a Palestinian state in the midst of Israel. I think that would be a profound mistake," adding in sarcasm: "There are so many Arab states around the world. They're doing just so well aren’t they? So it's time to found another one, right?"

Referring to Palestinian President Abbas' recent call for a "special regime" to protect Palestinians "more urgently than any time before," Bennett assured: "There's no place better on earth for Arabs than in Israel. The only place in the Middle East that exercises full religious rights for all religions - Christianity, Muslims and Jews - is Israel."

Bennett said he didn't mind Palestinians being integrated in Israel under certain conditions: "We have to realize that no one is going anywhere. The Jews are here to stay; the Arabs are here to stay. We have to live together."

In regard to Jerusalem he added: "Temple Mount is the holiest place on earth for Jews, no one should tell us how to govern Temple Mount. I will not dispute the status quo, it will go on."

Bennett accused Western Europe, particularly the EU, of having "pockets of anti-Semitism." When asked Bennett why he called it anti-Semitism and not criticism, Bennett replied: "When you see that Assad is butchering a quarter of a million of his own people and what you care about is building another Kindergarten or not in a settlement - I call that double standard. I call that anti-Semitism."

Naftali Bennett was born in Haifa in 1972 and studied law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem after his service in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). He became a self-made millionaire through IT start-ups. He served as Minister of Economy, Minister of Diaspora Affairs and Minister of Religious Services before becoming Minister of Education in Benjamin Netanyahu's government. He has also been leading of the right-wing Jewish Home Party since 2012.

Tim Sebastian invites national and international decision-makers to his weekly DW show. "Conflict Zone" airs every Wednesday at 17.30 UTC and will be available online on demand.

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