Herb Kenon — Jerusalem Post June 23, 2013
Iranian president-elect Hassan Rohani’s victory in the recent elections demonstrates the hollowness of the argument that stiff sanctions would unite the Iranian people around the regime, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in an interview published Friday in The Washington Post.
“The sanctions were often dismissed because it was said [that] they would get the Iranian people to rally around the regime.
Some rally,” Netanyahu said and added that, while the elections reflected deep public dissatisfaction with the regime, the results did not have the power to change Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
“It’s important to step up the sanctions, not to relent, not in any way to offer concessions in advance of any serious change in Iran’s nuclear program. The sanctions produced some changes in Iran, but they haven’t produced yet the change we need to see.”
Netanyahu warned that Iran was not seeking one or two nuclear bombs, “but 200 bombs. They’re building ICBMs [intercontinental ballistic missiles] parallel to developing their nuclear weapons program. The ICBMs are not intended for us, they’re intended for you. Within six to eight years, they intend to be able to reach the continental United States.”
Netanyahu was diplomatic when asked whether he believed and trusted US President Barack Obama, who has said he would not accept a nuclear Iran.
“I believe that’s his goal,” Netanyahu said, adding that “we’re all [being] tested, all of us. And the jury is out on all of us, on whether we muster the resolve to prevent this from happening.”
Regarding the diplomatic process with the Palestinians, Netanyahu said that placing preconditions on negotiations – something the Palestinians have done consistently over the last four years – “is the quickest way to undermine peace.”
He reiterated his view that the reason the conflict with the Palestinians has not been solved is not because of the settlements, but rather because of the Palestinian “persistent refusal to recognize a sovereign Jewish state in any boundary.”
The settlements, he said, are “one of the results” of the conflict, “but it’s certainly not its cause.”
He also rejected the idea that Israel needed to solve its conflict with the Palestinians in order to get “international pressure off our backs.” Once this is solved, he said, there will be “be pressure on other things.
The history of the Jewish people does not speak kindly to that effect.”
He said that the “horrible distortions” people believed about the Jews for the last 2,500 years were transferred onto their beliefs about the Jewish state. “I don’t think that’s materially going to change.”
But, he said, Israel needs to solve the Palestinian issue because “we don’t want to be a bi-national state.” The trick, he said, was in finding “the balance between effecting a separation between the Israelis and Palestinians and assuring that the Palestinian state does not become an Iranian outpost.”