Friday, May 16, 2008

"J’lem Sources Believe U.S. Could Hit Iran this Year"


"16/05/2008 Israeli daily Haaretz said Friday Israeli Army Radio reported that sources in Jerusalem believe that the U.S. administration could carry out an operation against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime over the next year.

Officials in the Israeli Prime Minister's Office said the possibility was discussed in closed talks between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and U.S. President George Bush, during the latter's visit to the Zionist entity this week. The officials said that Bush wants to deal with Iran on a root level, to weed out the negative influence aiding resistance groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, the radio said.

Meanwhile, senior officials in Jerusalem said Thursday that Israel is fully satisfied with the results of Bush's visit, including policy on Iran's nuclear program. "In talks with the president of the United States during his visit it was made clear that Bush's statements on the subject of Iran's nuclear program are fully backed in practice," a senior official said.

The president's attitude on Iran was well known in Israel, and the expectation had been that he would use forceful language against Tehran, both during talks with Israeli officials and in his address to the Knesset, not only on the nuclear question but on Iran's role in the region.

During meetings with Olmert and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, more data was presented to back the desire for a reassessment of an American intelligence report which concluded that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program.

One Israeli source said that it is hoped that the new information would influence the administration's stance on Iran's nuclear program. The source said that Olmert would discuss the subject during his visit to Washington in two weeks.

President Bush was wrapping up his visit in occupied territories on Friday with a tour and discussion with Israeli students at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem.

Bush addressed the Knesset on Thursday, promising unflinching U.S. support. Bush added that calls for negotiations with President Ahmadinejad are akin to the efforts to appease Hitler before World War II.

His address was interrupted no less than 14 times by loud applause. "America stands with you in breaking up terrorist networks and denying the extremists sanctuary. And America stands with you in firmly opposing Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions. Permitting the world's leading sponsor of terror to possess the world's deadliest weapon would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon," Bush said.

After the speech made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the Knesset in March, it was hard to expect a more pro-Zionist speech. But as a former Knesset speaker, MK Reuven Rivlin, put it Thursday, "I wish our leaders would make speeches like this." Rivlin described Bush as "manifesting the Zionist vision."

Contrary to the applause Bush received for his address, the speech by Olmert was less popular and stirred considerable controversy. Olmert promised that when there is a peace agreement it "will be approved by a large majority in the Knesset and it will be supported by the vast majority of the Israeli public."

Two MKs from the National Union, Zvi Hendel and Uri Ariel, left the plenum in protest, complaining that the event was "used to promote a political agenda that is opposed by most of the Israeli public."

Hendel issued a statement calling on Olmert "to learn from the president of the United States what Zionism is." MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) called out during Olmert's speech, "in your dreams." He later proposed that Bush should replace Olmert.

On Iran, Olmert said that "the seriousness of the threat demands that no means be discounted." However, he made it clear that "a uniform international political and economic front against Iran is currently in place, and tougher and more effective sanctions are a necessary stage, even if it is not the final stage, on the right way to block the Iranian threat." "

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