Steinitz calls for US ultimatum to Iran

Finance minister in Washington says that sanctions alone won’t be sufficient, US and other countries will have to set clear ultimatum.

By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER
October 8, 2010 04:34
2 minute read.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.

steinitz 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

WASHINGTON – Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz is calling on the US to set a clear deadline with a threat of future action, to give heft to the sanctions already imposed on Iran.

“There is tremendous progress with 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.

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“But it may be that sanctions alone won’t be sufficient, and the US and other countries will have to issue 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 considered.

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 [Binyamin] 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 peoples,” he said. “But it’s difficult.”

Steinitz planned to convey these messages to Dennis Ross, the senior White House adviser 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 International Monetary Fund and World Bank being held in Washington this weekend.

Steinitz defended two controversial fiscal policy moves during his conversation with Israel reporters, backing Israel’s purchase of millions of US dollars to weaken 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 has sparked considerable resistance from the 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.



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