New opposition leader Shaul Mofaz issued rare criticism of US President Barack Obama in an interview with The Jerusalem Post that will be published in Thursday’s Passover edition.

Mofaz has been one of the most positive voices among Israeli politicians about Obama, with whom he is seeking a meeting to boost his prime ministerial credentials. He has repeatedly defended Obama’s policies, especially on the Palestinian issue.

But Mofaz said he did not endorse Obama’s idea to permit Iran to have a civilian nuclear program as long as it did not become a military program. Obama reportedly sent a secret message to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressing a willingness to accept a civilian program if Iran could prove it would not pursue nuclear weapons.

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius wrote that Obama had sent Khamenei the message via Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was was in Iran last week.

“It would be too hard to monitor [a civilian program],” Mofaz said. “Iran has military ambitions and abilities, so we cannot close our eyes. Allowing Iran to obtain even a civilian nuclear capability would change the balance of power in the Middle East. America realizes why Israel cannot accept this.”

Mofaz said he believed the Obama administration was committed to stopping the Iranian nuclear program. Calling for an intensification of Americanled sanctions against Iran, he said the military option was the last option but that Israel must be ready for it.

“If we see Iran getting closer to a military nuclear capability and the US acting against its own interest and allowing a sword on our neck, I will be the first to support Israel taking action,” he said. “On this there would be no coalition and opposition. But the sword is not there yet.”


Click here for full Jpost coverage of the Iranian threat


Mofaz outlined his diplomatic plan, which calls for a two-stage withdrawal from 60 percent of the West Bank and then from 100% via land swaps. He said the dramatic changes taking place in the Middle East required Israel to expedite rather than delay diplomatic efforts.

“The biggest danger for Israel is not the Iranian threat but Israel becoming a bi-national state,” he said. “Losing the Jewish majority endangers Israel more than anything. I will not let it happen.”

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