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Liberman on Iran: ‘Better to be alone and stay alive’

Former foreign minister says there’s ‘not even a quarter’ of an indication that regime has slowed drive for nukes

Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Avigdor Liberman, in Jerusalem. Sunday, September 1, 2013. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Avigdor Liberman, in Jerusalem. Sunday, September 1, 2013. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman, who currently heads the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said Saturday that there’s not even a “quarter of a sign” that Iran has slowed its drive to acquire nuclear weapons.

“All international intelligence agencies are aware that nothing has changed,” he was quoted by Israel Radio saying.

“Israel is prepared to deal with the Iranian problem. Even if we stand alone. It’s better to be alone and stay alive rather than toe the line and go up in flames,” he added.

The Yisrael Beytenu leader recalled that the entire international community protested when Israel, acting alone, destroyed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor at Osiraq in 1981. Now, he said, the world recognizes that “we were right… The whole world would have paid the price” if Israel had not intervened.

Liberman was echoing several statements made by Israeli leaders recently — including Prime Minister Netanyahu, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin and Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi — warning that Israel was ready to act alone to defend itself, and intimating that Israel was concerned that the US might be duped by Iran’s current charm offensive into cutting a negotiated deal that would not block Iran’s route to the bomb.

Netanyahu used the bulk of his speech at the UNGA on Tuesday to address the threat posed by an Iranian regime in possession of nuclear weapons, and to deride the notion that Iran would relinquish its nuclear weapons drive unless sanctions were maintained or strengthened and backed by a credible military threat.

“If Israel is forced to stand alone” against that threat, “Israel will stand alone,” Netanyahu said, though it would know that it was also defending others.

“Israel will never acquiesce to nuclear arms in the hands of a rogue regime that repeatedly promises to wipe us out,” Netanyahu said.

Labor opposition leader Shelly Yachimovich later criticized Netanyahu for what she called his “isolationist” stance, and said the US had made plain that it shared Israel’s determination to thwart iran, including with the use of military force if necessary.

The prime minister returned Friday from his trip to New York, which included a media blitz with leading news outlets warning about “wolf in sheep’s clothing” President Hassan Rouhani’s “charm offensive”

“We can never be tempted by the Iranian scheme and ease sanctions, so long as the Iranians do not dismantle their military nuclear program,” the prime minister said upon his return to Ben Gurion Airport Friday.

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