(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.
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“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
“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.
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.”
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.
have to gain something, and gain something significant,” he said.
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.