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November 19, 2013 4:21 pm

Israel’s Economy Minister Bennett Schools CNN’s Amanpour Over Use of Term ‘Occupied Territories’ (VIDEO)

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Israel Economy Minister Naftali Bennett showing a 2,000 year old Jewish coin to CNN's Christiane Amanpour, on November 18, 2013. Photo: Screenshot / CNN.

Israel Economy Minister Naftali Bennett showing a 2,000 year old Jewish coin to CNN's Christiane Amanpour, on November 18, 2013. Photo: Screenshot / CNN.

Israel’s Economy Minister Naftali Bennett took CNN’s Christiane Amanpour to task in a tense television interview on Monday, objecting to the anchor’s insistence on referring to “occupied territories,” to which the leader of Israel’s Jewish Home party responded flatly, “One cannot occupy his own home.”

The comment was in response to her question about the wisdom of Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel’s recent announcement for plans to build 24,000 housing units beyond the Green Line, in the “occupied territories,” a move which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered to be reversed so as not to interfere with parallel negotiations to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

“First of all Christiane, you talk about ‘occupied,'” Bennett said, before Amanpour interrupted him, trying to steer him back to the question of the housing developments.

“Since you say the term ‘occupied,’ I have to point out, I’m holding a coin here from Jerusalem,” he said, lifting the coin up to the camera, before she cut him off, again, insisting, “It’s an international term, Mr. Bennett.”

“I know,” Bennett said, “and I don’t accept it. Because this coin which says in Hebrew, Freedom of Zion, was used by Jews in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago in the state of Israel in what you call occupied [land]. One cannot occupy his own home.”

“Now to your question, in Israel, beyond the Green Line, there are 700,000 Israelis, there’s vast cities, and they need to live, and we have always said that we will continue to serve this population,” Bennett said.

“The building of communities there is not a hindrance to peace. Only 7% of the entire West Bank, or Judea and Samaria, is built today, 93% is open, so no-one is stopping peace,” he said.

“If the Palestinians want peace, they have to do one simple thing: recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland, that’s all. But if they don’t do that, if they don’t recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland, they can’t expect peace.”

Israel’s Jewish Home party objects to the term “occupied territories” because Israel’s enemies use the phrase to paint it as a colonial power.

In its platform, the  Jewish Home party points out that neither the military occupation of Gaza by Egypt nor the military occupation of Judea and Samaria and East Jerusalem by Jordan ever prompted the PLO to demand sovereignty, nor were they ever internationally condemned as foreign occupiers.

Earlier on Monday, Bennett had told a boardroom full of investors in New York City, that rather than waste time negotiating with the Palestinian Authority for an outcome that will be ultimately refused, no matter the terms, he has been using his post as Economy Minister to focus on growth:  “I call Israel a lighthouse in a storm. There is a regional Arab storm that will last for years, but Israel is strong and radiates light. This is the true story of Israel. Not discussing the conflict all day, instead, projecting light like a lighthouse and doing good around the world.”

He echoed that sentiment in the interview with Amanpour, telling the anchor that his party’s solution focused on “bottom up development,” providing tangible benefits rather than nationalistic rhetoric.

“What we need to do with the Palestinians, because we are neighbors, is build it bottom up,” Bennett said.

“We need to invest in the economy, we need to invest in more joint businesses. The situation on the ground is very positive.”

“I think trying to enforce an artificial state in the heart of Israel, in Jerusalem, is a grave mistake,” Bennett told Amanpour.

Watch Bennett’s interview on CNN below as he confronts Amanpour at 7:27:

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  • Michele Locker

    Bravo Naftali Bennett!!!! Can we get you to also be the PR minister for Israel! He’s articulate, strong, good looking…. wish he was single too!

  • Dr. Moshe Avital

    Kol Hakavod to Naftali Bennett. I felt that he was amazing in his presentation of the case of the Jewish People. I know that he had to hold back in order to be diplomatic. I would like to add a few facts which I would have said. Amanpour called Judaea and Samaria Occupied Territories. What would one call the American Guantanimo base in Cuba? Is it occupied territory? Does it belong to America or Cuba? America claims that she needs this territory as a defensive position. IT is 90 miles away from the U.S. Judaea and Samaria, on the other hand, is right near the Jewish Villages and Towns which have been harassed and attacked constantly. Just a few weeks ago 3 Jews were murdered brutally . One Jew who worked in a Restaurant with an Arab who invited him to come to his house where he was murdered.The second was a young 18 year old soldier who boarded a bus in Israel and sat down near an Arab who stabbed him to death. The 3rd, a colonel in the Israeli Army Reserve was hacked to death by 2 Arab youth who came from the nearby village.
    When Mr. Abu Mazzen,the chairman of the PLO was younger he studied in Moscow for his PhD and the topic of his dissertation was the Holocaust. His conclusion was that the genocide of the 6 million Jews was a fallacy, and that only 300,000 Jews died from sickness.
    I ask the question:
    How can Israel trust these people to make peace!
    There is only one little Jewish State which absorbed almost a million Jews from the Muslim Countries and made them productive citizens. There are 22 Arab States. Why don’t they absorb their brethren so that everyone can live in peace in the Middle East.
    There are a number of precedents where countries exchanged populations after a war.
    Turkey and Greece after the World War One, and Germany absorbed 3 and a half million Germans whom the Czechoslovakia expelled. The problem is that most people don’t know the history and the background of the Jewish people and the rights to their land.
    After the terrible Holocaust it is time for the world to let the Jews alone and live in peace.

    • baruch bad deutsch

      milim ke dorbanot dr avital . well put . let israel live in peace . we earned it . shabbath shalom to all!

    • Michael ben Gershon

      Bravo sir!

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  • Yoel Nitzarim

    Naftali Bennett was very gracious in his comments to Christian Amanpour. Her evident lack of knowledge of the history of the region in which Israel is located, her brash uninformed take on the legal rights of the Jewish people to the land which is Judea and Samaria, and her amateurish brazen approach to an Israeli elected official all added up to an unfortunately disquieting interview. Mr. Bennett held his own disposition with the aplomb of a statesman. Any and all references to the “West Bank” are misleading, deceitful, and inaccurate no matter what most of the global nations say. The point is that there never was a nation named Palestine governed by Muslim Palestinians without a Jewish presence. The point is that the Temple Mount is the holiest place in the world for Jews; whereas there is no mention of it in the Qur’an as there is no mention of Jerusalem in the Qur’an. The point is that Israel was designated as the Jewish homeland long before there ever was a man named Muhammad and some 2300 years before the advent of Islam.

  • Prof. Livia Jackson

    It is important to use correct terminology. “Palestinian” refers to people who lived in ancient Palestine, originally the Philistines, then the Judeans aka Jews. The Arabs lived for centuries in the south,the Arabian Peninsula near Mecca and their ethnicity derives from their tribal affiliation. The Arabs living in the territory Judea, Samaria and Israel are Hashemites, like their tribal brothers in Transjordan. They moved north in search of work and trade as late as the 18th and 19th Century. The Jews welcomed them,gave them work and traded with them.

  • FactsRule

    Naftali, your contention that you build up the infrastructure for an overwhelmingly genocidal population of Arab Muslims west of the Jordan River is a far worse deal than any deal made with Iran as anyone with an ounce of intelligence can see by viewing the mindset, propaganda. instruction, inculcation, & strong promotion of genocide & the annihilation of Israel (being the highest aspiration of that population) exposed over decades at palwatch. org (omit the space before org). It is treason for you to give not only aid, comfort, & inconceivable building of infrastructure to your existential enemy. No country in history has not repatriated such a hugely genocidal population &, on the contrary, done everything in its power to cajole them into giving up their highest aspiration in life, the annihilation of Israel. ALL Israel has got for this suicidal outrageously stupid idea is hundreds of thousands of innocent people murdered, maimed, dismembered, & dispossessed of their precious homes, businesses, houses of worship, parks, cemeteries, etc. The ONLY effective AND compassionate solution to the intransigent genocidal Arab Muslims west of the Jordan River is to exercise your international legal right to repatriate them back over the border into Jordan & Egypt, no matter what it takes to do so. NOTHING short of this will EVER solve the problem of daily attacks & Israel’s eventual destruction, God forbid.

    • Naftali did a great job standing up to Christianne who has always held a pro-Arab stance. That said, I agree with FactsRule. It’s still not too late, for Israel to annex the West Bank to be part of Israel proper. No more green lines, interim borders, no more negotiations with the fascist PA. When Jordan attacked Israel in the 6 day war and lost , this territory belongs to the winner (Israel) as per international law. The arabs should be forced (at gun point if necessary) to move back into Jordan. Israel can deal with Hamas in the Gaza strip as the second project.

  • Stephen Logan

    Eloquent and perfectly reasoned, a powerful and effective speaker. His arguments are rational and plausible. He is a model other politicians should imitate.

    May G-d bless him and continue to use Him to defend Israel.

  • dave

    amanapour is a despicable, vile, ultraleft-wing, anti-Israel, anti-American, anti-semitic liberal extremist, period.


  • To his credit, Bennett is participating in an an ongoing discussion about rights. For political reasons, Amanpour and her ilk purposely overemphasize the obscure legal topic of “occupation” to distract from the more important reality that the Jewish People has very substantial legal rights in the neighborhood. Firstly, there is the matter of the aboriginal rights of the Jewish People to Eretz Israel, the “Land of Israel.” Such Jewish aboriginal rights arguably extend even to parts of Transjordan. Secondly, there are the 1917-1923 treaty rights of the Jewish People which clearly reach all the way from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Thirdly, there are the self-determination rights of the Jewish People which embrace all the places right now inhabited by Jews. However in this ongoing discussion about rights, these Jewish aboriginal, treaty and self-determination rights are not absolute. Other Peoples also have some rights! For example, though born only post 1967, there is indeed today a newly self-identified Palestinian People with rights to self-determination. But, the newborn Palestinian People’s self-determination rights do not automatically cancel the prior rights of the Jewish People. Bennett is entirely correct in arguing that Palestinian self-determination rights should not be realized unless and until the Palestinians are ready to unequivocally recognize the legitimacy and permanence of Israel as “the” Jewish State, i.e. as the political expression of the self-determination of the Jewish People in a part of its aboriginal homeland. In this regard, you may wish to go to for an October 2011 posting entitled “Jewish Aboriginal Rights to Israel.”

  • Wallace Edward Brand

    One can occupy one own’s home. I have occupied my own home since 1964, three years before Israel occupied Judea, Samaria, and East Jerusalem. It is correct to refer to it as a military occupation — but it is more relevant to refer to it as a “liberation” and not a belligerent occupation. To qualify as a belligerent occupation, the a legitimate sovereign must have been displaced. Jordan was not a legitimate sovereign in June, 1967. It was illegally occupying these territories based on its victory in a war of aggression in 1948. The 1907 Hague Resolution Article 43 to my recollection, assumes that the land was taken from a legitimate sovereign. Israel was recognized as the beneficial owner of the political rights to all of Palestine in 1920 at San Remo, and in 1922 53 states recognized the Jewish People as the beneficial owners of those political rights under a plan in which the rights would vest in the Jewish People when they attained a majority of population and were capable of exercising sovereignty. Following the abdication of the trustee or “mandatory power” in 1948, in 1950 the Jewish People had attained a population majority within the Green Line and also had attained unified control over the population within that defined territory. In 1967, the trust res was regained by the Jewish People when the liberated those political rights from the illegal squatters, Jordan and Egypt. So it is correct that the territories were occupied. Look up the phrase “military occupation” But the better characterization is that they were “liberated” from illegal occupier. The occupation was not a belligerent occupation as the Arabs suggest — see the 1907 Hague Convention, Article 43 to my aging recollection.

  • Howell Selburn

    Bennett is great. Speaks truthfully, and to the point. Something other world leaders should do.

  • Betty

    Very impressed and very proud to view such a robust statement on behalf of our heritage. Kol haKavod

  • KJ

    Reaching the Americans one-on-one is very wise. I think the plan, “From the ground up,” should be expanded upon so that Americans can understand the intent of Israel while visualizing the plans. Also, it should be emphasized to Americans that if Palestinians cannot abide civilly among Jews and others as well as obey Israel’s laws and compliances while in Israel, then they are not going to be very good cooperating allies as an artificial implant of an independent country placed within or alongside of Israel. Proof also needs to support this so that Americans can wrap their minds around it. Hamas has not been affectively dealt with either by the Palestinians nor has full cooperation of most Palestinians been given to neutralize their fundamentals. There is also not a concerted effort to neutralize Hamas in Islamic countries surrounding Israel. Americans still see the treatment of Palestinian dispossession as being cruel and hypocritical. Israel has to prove to Americans all measures which have been given to Palestinians regarding basic needs and the awareness and fairness of Israeli laws and punishments surrounding how the laws are implemented upon ALL of the Palestinian community (Hamas and nonfundamentals). Currently, many Americans will view the two battling religions from a secular point of view giving discredit to a religious solution. Americans are facing fundamental Christianity currently. So, respect for religion in some Americans is not high on the list. They are looking at it from a humanistic point of view (the Palestinian dispossession, injuries and deaths) Palestinian news will report that Israel does not always play fair. This feeds into the secular community in America. Otherwise, Americans could align Israel with Christian dominionists. That is not good. There needs to be a clear separation from the Christian church and its motives. there needs to be clarity in how Israel is managing the Palestinian issue with humanity and fairness given all of the facts.

  • Andrea

    So proud of him. All our leaders should not be
    afraid to speak truth!!!!!

  • Emmett

    Who ever said the Arabs wanted peace? The so called “Palestinians” are nothing but Arab & Moslem infiltrators from Arabia(including Trans Jordan) and Egypt who banded together to destroy Israel. That is why the PLO was created. They have no other purpose.

  • Julian Clovelly

    The difficulties relating to the building of settlements seem to me to in part reflect an underlying problem in modern Judaism, the problem of how conversion to Judaism is viewed, bothe internally and externally – th elatter often as rejection.

    One hesitates to delve too far into what are ongoing studies, but DNA research would seem to suggest that, whilst in Judaism a core middle eastern origin is likely across Jewish people from different geographical regions and communities, the level of assimilation and marriage outside of the local communities was historically quite high. This would suggest that a reverse form of assimilation took place in the form of accepted conversion on quite a large scale in some areas.

    Move to the present day, and for an outsider it would seem that a negative attitude towards conversion is creating a cultural barrier in the Middle East and worldwide whereby there is no cultural “buffer zone”.

    Ancient Jewish populations, in part. seem to have survived because of a high degree of assimilation. Is it possible that the same kind of assimilation, through quiet acceptance of conversion, might assist defusing hatred and resentment in the Middle East?

    For the non Jewish person in the area of the settlements, there is the current knowledge that theoretically, for generation after generation into the future, under no circumstances could his family ever be allowed to live in these housing projects that are being built on land that was only made available through the results of military action, increasingly before he or she was born. This is because modern Judaism is being turned into what one suspects it was never meant to be – a de-facto class barrier

    My personal experience is that this is a modern distortion that science is rightly calling into question. We are all children of the same G-d, that which hurts one of us devalues all our lives. We need to remove the cultural barriers in order that the physical fear-based protective barriers can be removed. That means accepting the crossing of people from their birth culture into a chosen one

    And for that those cultures – all of them – have to change, accepting the principle of freedom of choice. Ask yourself a simple question – if the settlements were successful minglings of cultures, would the world do anything other than acclaim them as an example to the world of progressive change? But it would take a lot of goodwill and determination to reach that state, a willingness to let go, absorb new ideas and to share.

  • Straightshooter

    Good job, Naftali, keep it up!

  • Jill Maleson

    At long last an Israeli has stood up to Amanpour. She has used her power at CNN to defend killers of Israelis and degrade Israel for years. One of the many reasons I don’t watch CNN.

    • KJ

      very true, but Israeli leaders will need to be more open and savvy about educating Americans. America and Israel are two different worlds which need each other. Most Americans do not have a clue about the realities of Israel. And, this has been my point. Israel needs to understand her audience before addressing America. And, Israel needs to be more involved not just now but on a regular basis of educating Americans about the happenings in Israel, the history and the specifics which concern Americans. America is dealing with Christian dominionism and radical atheism and liberalism (polarized) all at once. This is not an easy culture to reach, transparently educate and inform while maintaining a balance. And, since Israel needs the support from America, it’s even more important to do these things especially when the U.N. and Europe is involved as well.

  • ABL

    Do Israeli ministers get no media training?

    Some of Bennett’s points are very valid and important—but he comes off as angry, arrogant and unreasonable. He talked down to Amanpour, occasionally mispronounced her name and rudely interrupted her like a drunk frat boy…and that bit about “allegedly” was just plain amateurish.

    He won no sympathy for Israel or for the positions he defended.
    What a lost opportunity to educate on a number of important and widely misunderstood issues.

    • KJ

      I believe the “negative” traits you addressed are cultural clashes. I did not find him to be arrogant. Yes, I am Jewish but am also an American. So, my stance and view of the bigger picture is in the middle. Amanpour was arrogantly interrupting him and not allowing him to express his opinions about “occupation.” This is controlling news instead of relaying news. Mispronunciations of names is not universally indicative of disrespect. There is little time to express ALL ideas on such a complex issue, and just his attempts alone to repeat her name was an act of respect. I don’t believe Israel is seeking sympathy. I believe they are seeking to simply explain and educate about Israel which many Americans base their education of from biased news, rumors, gossip, small talk, and uninformed short black and white discussions. It is incredibly complex in Israel and enough to warrant a live TV full hour program rather than a 10 minute “interview.”

    • Ilana

      I think he was polite, strong and calmly took control of his interview despite C.A. strong and rude attempts to interrupt him and steer the interview in the direction she wanted it to go. Uh-uh, doesn’t work with him and great that it didn’t.

    • rsp

      ABL, your comments expose you as one of the brain disengaged. No reasonable and rational person viewing and listening to that video could conclude that Mr. Bennett was angry,rude, arrogant, or unreasonable. He kept the notoriously anti-Semitic Amanpour from controlling the interview and spouting her pejorative words. He was a cogent defender of Israel and engendered sympathy for those whose brains are engaged.

    • Jim

      “…and that bit about ‘allegedly’ was just plain amateurish.”

      As is your post feigning concern for the welfare of Israel and it’s people.

    • Rosanne Stein

      ABL, you may be the only viewer alive who found Bennett’s presentation and discourse angry and condescending. He, like many of Israel’s senior politicians, has had plenty of training and experience with the international media. Kol HaKavod to Bennett!

  • Dr Russ Fine

    Amanpour has a long, documented history as an Israel hater. I suspect she feels the same about Jews.

  • jack smith

    I believe that guy is comment is dangerous and is going straight to the elimination of Israel .

    • Emanuel

      jack smith, why do you think that? That will never happen!

  • Bravo to Naftali Bennett for dispelling the “myth of occupation”!

    This fallacy has been around for almost half a century; it has fuelled the false Palestinian narrative; and it is high time it is debunked.

  • S. Klein

    Christiane Amanpour seems to side with Israel’s enemies. Does Christiane Amanpour dislike the Jews?

  • Claudia

    At last someone saying out loud what had to be shouted long ago. He used honesty and not diplomacy…

  • Ilana Levy

    “I call Israel a lighthouse in a storm. There is a regional Arab storm that will last for years, but Israel is strong and radiates light. This is the true story of Israel. Not discussing the conflict all day, instead, projecting light like a lighthouse and doing good around the world.”

    Naftali Bennet is sooooooo right….Israel is THE Lighthouse to the nations and one day they will THANK US !

  • Bernard Ross

    The first Israeli govt official in decades to re legitimize jewish settlement in YS. BRAVO