Netanyahu: Iran Trying to Take Advantage of Arab World Upheaval

(Telegraph-UK) Charles Moore - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview: Iran is "seeking to exploit" current events. Its decision to send two naval vessels through the Suez Canal is "the first time we've seen elements of a Persian fleet in the Mediterranean since Alexandrine times." This proves Iran has "aggressive intentions." Iran was working as hard as it could to destabilize societies - Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon - before all this, and now it is trying to take advantage of the new situation. Iran with nuclear weapons would create new threats. "Look at Bahrain. A nuclear Iran would make it a Persian Gulf on both sides." It would control the oil supplies of the world and "spawn a nuclear arms race in the Middle East." Iranian conventional ballistic missiles already have a range which includes western Europe: "It is extraordinarily dangerous for my country, but also for your country." He sees Israel as "merely a forward position of Western values." The Western powers agree about the Iranian nuclear threat, he says, citing Britain's Defence Secretary, Dr. Liam Fox, as a strong exponent of this view. But he adds: "I think we should do more. I think we can do more." The present sanctions "don't have sufficient bite," and we "need a credible military option if sanctions fail." People accuse Israel of taking advantage of the situation by stalling the peace process and avoiding a clear line. Mr. Netanyahu sharply reminds me of his own position. Israel, he says, recognizes the need for a nation-state for Palestinians, but unless they recognize Israel's right to be the Jewish state, there is no basis for a discussion of borders. The Palestinians provide no "education for peace." Their school textbooks preach hatred and the public squares under the Palestinian Authority are named after the murderers of Israelis. The "international ganging-up on Israel" over the settlements is a classic example of changing the terms of the argument - what he calls "the reversal of causality." There were no Jewish settlements in the West Bank before Israel was attacked in the Six-Day War of 1967, "So what was all that about?" Israel proper remains disputed by her enemies. "Even moderates don't say that, if the settlements end, we'll make peace with Israel." He does hasten to add, however, that a deal can be done. "It is not impossible to resolve it, to make the necessary compromises. The settlement issue has to be resolved." "Britain was a colonial power, and colonialism has been spurned." Britain therefore tends to look at the Israeli question through its "colonial prism," which makes the British "see us as neo-colonialists." But this is wrong. "We are not Belgians in the Congo! We are not Brits in India!" He agrees that Western loss of support for Israel is "a huge issue" and "tragic because, in many ways, we are you and you are us."

2011-02-28 00:00:00

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