Meir Ben-Shabbat, who recently stepped down as National Security Council chief, warned the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that Israel’s central threat and security focus must remain Iran.

Speaking at an FADC ceremony to honor his around four years of work as NSC chief, he said: “blocking Iran is the highest priority. This goal grabs a central place on our strategic and security agenda and it should remain so until we ensure,” that the multiple threats from Iran against Jerusalem have been stopped.

Ben-Shabbat addressed his prominent roles dealing with the coronavirus and the Abraham Accords saying, “I witnessed historic events and unprecedented tense issues. I saw us sign historic agreements and participated in decisions related to war. I saw our central [security] apparatuses do amazingly and pass the tests before them. I was struck by the admiration of our country by world leaders who I met with,” he said.

On a more cautionary note, he said, “Israel is a strong country and its strategic situation is good and the [security] balance it has is positive, but fragile and faces many challenges,” which could lead to a sudden negative turnaround.

The outgoing NSC chief also expressed concern about divisiveness within the country and the need to “join hands” and find “non-traditional solutions” to secure the nation.

He wished Eyal Hulata, his successor, the best of luck.

Prior to becoming NSC chief in 2017, Ben-Shabbat had spent decades as a top official in the Shin Bet, eventually reaching the equivalent of the rank of an IDF Major-General.

Ben-Shabbat did not address any political issues or go into detail about either former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he spent nearly all of his term serving, or Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, whom he served since mid-June.

The panel government members all heaped praise on him, despite Ben-Shabbat often being identified with Netanyahu.

Opposition MKs were not in attendance, possibly as part of a partial boycott of the committees, though some might have thought an exception would have been made for a top long-standing Netanyahu aide.

FADC Chairman Ram Ben Barak, a former Mossad deputy chief, said “very few people know your huge contribution to national security and you are always so modest. I do hope we will benefit from your wisdom for many years to come.”

Yisrael Beytenu MK Yossi Shain said Ben-Shabbat had made “splendid contributions” and Labor MK Emilie Moatti complimented him on diplomacy he assisted with regarding normalization with Morocco.

New Hope MK Zvi Hauser, a former FADC chairman, gave likely the most personal send-off, noting that Ben-Shabbat had endured many political attacks. He implied that many of the attacks had been unjust and had occurred simply because he was working for Netanyahu even though Ben-Shabbat himself had served in a professional security expert capacity.

Hauser referred to the Jewish nation as “a stubborn people” and essentially said that anyone who attacked Ben-Shabbat should ask his forgiveness, especially in light of his handling of the unprecedented coronavirus crisis – for which Hauser gave him high marks.

Source » jpost