Cool move, Bibi.
JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israeli prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu believes that weakening Iran is key to ending the Middle East conflict as it would in turn weaken Hamas, a senior aide said on Tuesday.
"Iran's growing power and intransigence give great advantage to the radical elements among Palestinians and in Lebanon," the aide said, when asked about talks Netanyahu held with outgoing Defence Minister Ehud Barak earlier in the day.
"Any progress in the Middle East peace talks will require Hamas's weakening which can be achieved only if Iran is seen as weakened," he said.
Israel accuses Iran of supplying weapons to both the Islamist rulers of Gaza and Lebanon's Shiite militant group Hezbollah, which fought a devastating war with Israel in 2006.
Netanyahu, a hawkish former premier who heads the right-wing Likud party, said at the meeting, which was also attended by chief of staff Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, that he intends to focus his efforts on ending Iran's nuclear programme.
Israel, which is widely believed to have the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear arsenal, suspects that the Iranian programme is cover for a weapons drive but Iran insists it is solely for peaceful purposes.
"It will be very difficult to stablilise the situation in Lebanon or to hold negotiations with the Palestinians as long as Iran's power is on the rise," the aide quoted Netanyahu as saying.
The Likud leader, who is expected to form a narrow right-wing coalition next week, has rejected establishing a Palestinian state and has advocated what he calls an "economic peace" with the Palestinians.
This could lead to tension with the new US administration after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week announced that Washington intends an "aggressive" pursuit of Middle East peace.
The Hussein administration, which can only be aggressive with our allies. Good luck with that.
Meanwhile, more malicious and deceptive intel on a nuked up Iran:
Israel Disagree on Iran Arms Threat - Peter Finn
U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told Congress Tuesday: "The overall situation - and the intelligence community agrees on this - [is] that Iran has not decided to press forward...to have a nuclear weapon on top of a ballistic missile....Our current estimate is that the minimum time at which Iran could technically produce the amount of highly enriched uranium for a single weapon is 2010 to 2015."
On Sunday, Israel's chief of military intelligence, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, said: "Iran continues to stockpile hundreds of kilograms of low-level enriched uranium and hopes to use the dialogue with the West to buy the time it requires in order to move towards an ability to manufacture a nuclear bomb." Blair said Israel was working from the same facts but had drawn a different interpretation of their meaning. "The Israelis are far more concerned about it, and they take more of a worst-case approach to these things." (Washington Post)