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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A nuclear Iran could destroy the Zionist dream by deterring immigration to Israel, Labor MK Ephraim Sneh said Sunday.
Telling supporters at Labor headquarters in Tel Aviv of a recent meeting he held with members of American Jewish organizations, Sneh said aliya would slow down and eventually stop if Iran succeeded in developing nuclear weapons.
"I asked the [Americans] 'Would people from the States come if Iran had nuclear abilities?' They answered me with a resounding no," he said. "It is not necessary for Iran to actually destroy Israel with weapons, they can destroy it with the threat.... Iran could destroy the Zionist dream."
Speaking afterward in English, Sneh told The Jerusalem Post that Israel must also prepare an "indigenous" option for dealing with Iran, but he declined to elaborate. He said only that such an option should be employed as a last resort, saying Israel needed to have alternatives "on the table and ready to go."
"All I will say is that we need to create indigenous options," Sneh, a former deputy defense minister, said. "We need a strong shield on our periphery and an ability to act beyond the horizon."
In the speech, entitled "2008 - the year of decisions," Sneh laid out three issues - Iran, the Palestinians, and center-left Israeli politics - on which he felt strong decisions must be made in the year 2008.
"This is the year where issues will come to a head and we will be forced to make serious decisions," he said.
Sneh said Israel must learn to be self-reliant in dealing with Iran from a military perspective, and that although America would soon be led by a new president, Israel could rely on any American administration to support a military maneuver against Iran.
"Just as Iran is creating a new Persian Empire - stretching from Afghanistan to the south of Iraq, to Syria, and the Hizbullah network in Lebanon - we must create our own network," he said. "And we can't create our own network unless the Palestinian issue is seriously moving towards resolution."
Sneh, who met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Saturday, said both the Palestinian leadership and population were seriously interested in negotiating a final peace agreement with Israel.
"We need to be prepared to divide Israel, with 78 percent becoming a Jewish state and 22% going to the Palestinians," he said.
Most of the Knesset and the Israeli public currently back peace negotiations, Sneh said, adding that it was up to the leadership to step up and make "serious decisions."