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(photo credit: AP [file])
"In light of Iran's ongoing [nuclear] policy, and the victory and continued rule of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the international community must act uncompromisingly to prevent the country's nuclearization and to stymie its efforts to aid terror organizations and undermine the stability of the Middle East," Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Saturday night following Ahmadinejad's sweeping victory in Friday elections in the country.
Lieberman, who heads the Israel Beiteinu Party, stressed that the Iranian threat was not connected to the individual serving as president, but to the regime as a whole. "The problem that Iran poses for the international community is not about the personality [of the leader] but about its policies," he said in a statement.
"We had no illusions about these elections in Israel," said Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, "because on the nuclear issue there was no fundamental difference between the candidates."
Nevertheless, he added, Ahmadinejad's election removes "any glimmer of hope for change in Iran." Likud ministers also called on the international community to use the reelection of the Iranian president, who has denied the Holocaust and called for Israel's destruction, as an opportunity to put more pressure of the Islamic regime in Teheran to end its nuclear weapons program.
"The Iranian election results are a slap in the face of those who believed Iran was built for real dialogue with the free world and would halt its nuclear program," said Vice Premier Silvan Shalom.
"Ahmadinejad's victory sends a clear message to the world that there is wide support for the current policy [within Iran], and it will continue unchanged. The United States and the free world must reevaluate their policy on Teheran's nuclear ambitions," he was quoted by Israel Radio as saying.
While Israeli officials stressed the need for the world to draw conclusions about Iran's political future, extremist elements in the Arab world welcomed the Iranian president's victory, according to official Iranian sources.
"Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Leader of Egyptian Ikhwan al-Muslimin Muhammad-Mehdi Akef, Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas], and Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement in separate messages congratulated President Ahmadinejad on his victory. They wished him success and prosperity," reported IRNA, the official government news agency.
Ahmadinejad's victory may not be wholly bad for Israel, according to former intelligence official and government adviser Yossi Alpher, as it could allow Israel to briefly deflect US pressure to endorse the creation of a Palestinian state and freeze the construction of West Bank settlements.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.