Israeli President Shimon Peres cautions against Iran strike (THE GLOBE AND MAIL) PATRICK MARTIN JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 05/04/12)
GLOBE AND MAIL
GLOBE AND MAIL Articles-Index-Top
Anyone planning a military strike against Iran’s growing nuclear
facilities had better think again, says Israeli President Shimon
Peres. “You must ask, what will be the next step?”
Speaking in an interview Thursday with The Globe and Mail in advance
of a visit to Canada, Mr. Peres, Israel’s most prominent elder
statesman, weighed in on a topic that is dividing the country’s
security and political leadership. He warned that “in order to
prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear [armed] country you have to
introduce a system of verification and inspection,” and worried that
such a system could be jeopardized by a pre-emptive attack.
“Say if somebody wants to attack Iran – that’s good, but what will
happen after the attack?” said Mr. Peres. “Some people say it will
make Iran powerless for two to three years. That’s not good enough,”
he said emphatically.
It has been widely speculated that Israel is on the verge of
launching such an attack. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
continually warns about the threat posed by Iran, especially to
Israel. And he lets it be known he views actions taken thus far to
rein in the Tehran regime as little better than appeasement.
In his remarks last week at Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day
ceremony, Mr. Netanyahu chastised those “who do not like when I speak
such uncomfortable truths. They prefer that we not speak of a nuclear
Iran as an existential threat.”
Speaking at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial centre, Mr. Netanyahu
likened himself to Ze’ev Jabotinsky, a right-wing Zionist leader who
warned the Jews of Poland in the 1930s of the impending Nazi
storm “but the leading Jewish intellectuals of the day ridiculed
Jabotinsky and, rather than heed his warning, they attacked him,”
said Mr. Netanyahu.
Mr. Peres, himself a Jew from Poland, delivered a milder warning
about Iran at the same ceremony, emphasizing that the regime is a
threat to world peace and it is as much the world’s responsibility to
deal with it as it is Israel’s. His remarks were widely viewed here
as a cautionary note.
As in Canada, Israel’s prime minister runs the government. The
presidency is a mostly ceremonial position. But it can be,
particularly in the case of a veteran politician and internationally
known figure like Mr. Peres, an influential one.
It’s not up to Israel to solve a global issue, said Mr. Peres, who
will be 89 in August. “Iran is a real problem for the world,” he
explained in his interview Thursday.
“I don’t think when we speak to the United States about Iran we
should speak about Israel,” Mr. Peres said, speaking at the
President’s official residence in Jerusalem. “It [should be] about
the United States.” They too “cannot afford a situation where the
Iranians would be governor of the Middle East.”
The way to end the threat from Iran, said Mr. Peres, “is to create a
coalition of nations, so it won’t be just you [the United States] and
us. And I think Obama, he built a coalition,” he said, referring to
U.S. President Barack Obama.
And, Mr. Peres added, “you start with non-military measures, like
economic pressure, like political pressure.”
The Israeli president also noted that President Obama had assured
people that if such measures weren’t sufficient, there were “other
options” he would consider. “That sounds logical to me,” Mr. Peres
Mr. Peres’s remarks came just three days before he is to arrive in
Ottawa on a five-day state visit in which discussions of Iran’s
nuclear program are expected to play a prominent role. They also come
after a week in which a number of Israeli security officials, past
and present, have voiced serious reservations about Israel launching
an attack on Iran.
Yuval Diskin, the former director of the Shin Bet security service,
described Mr. Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak as having
messianic complexes and risking taking Israel into an unnecessary war.
The Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Binyamin Gantz, addressed the
issue of Iran the day after the Prime Minister’s Holocaust speech.
Lt.-Gen. Gantz surprised people when he said he considered the
Iranian leadership to be composed of rational people who had yet to
decide whether to build nuclear weapons.
Some commentators have suggested that a new move by Mr. Netanyahu’s
Likud party to move up Israeli elections to this fall – a date is
expected to be announced next week – would preclude Israel from
launching any attack. But Israel has taken pre-emptive measures
In 1981, the Likud-led government of Menachem Begin attacked Iraq’s
nuclear reactor just three weeks before the vote that saw Likud re-
elected by a margin of one seat, over the Labour Party, then led by
Shimon Peres. (© Copyright 2012 CTVglobemedia Publishing Inc.
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY