(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
WASHINGTON – Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz on Thursday called on the US to set a clear deadline with a threat of future action to give heft to the sanctions already imposed on Iran.
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“There is tremendous progress regard to sanctions and we praised the American administration for its success in passing tough sanctions, which Iran is starting to feel,” he told reporters while on a visit to Washington. But it may be that sanctions alone won’t be sufficient and the US and other countries will have to set a clear warning and deadline, a strong and harsh ultimatum.”
He declined to specify what such a threat would consist of, though he
said an embargo and other steps short of military attack could be
Steinitz also said that while he didn’t know what would happen in terms
of resolving the standoff over the expiration of the settlement freeze
which has brought Israeli-Palestinian talks to a standstill, he did
stress that the government was committed to making peace.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu is really eager to promote the peace process
and try to achieve a final settlement … that will be based on a
two-state solution – two states for two people,” he said. “But it’s
Steinitz planned to convey these messages to Dennis Ross, senior White
House advisor on Middle East issues, during their meeting Friday.
He is also meeting with top US Treasury and international financial
leaders as part of the annual fall meeting of the IMF and World Bank
being held in Washington this weekend.
Steinitz defended two controversial fiscal policy during his
conversation with Israel reporters, backing Israel’s purchase of
millions of US dollars to hold down the strength of the shekel and
justifying the government’s efforts to take control of a larger share of
the gas fields found off the Israeli coast.
The latter move has sparked considerable pushback from the private international companies involved in the exploration.
“Investors have to gain something and gain something significant,” he said.
But he declared, “Nobody will threaten us.”
Steinitz described Israel’s changed stance on the gas fields as in
keeping with the approach of other major Western countries once such
reserves are found in their territory. “We have to do what’s good for
Israel and its citizens,” he said.