Livni: Strike against Iran still an option

FM tells FADC "in this region, you either beat up the neighborhood thug, or you join him."

livni good 224 88  ap (photo credit: AP)
livni good 224 88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
The option of military action against a nuclear-weapons-bent Iran must be kept on the table, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday. Livni added that keeping alive the possibility of using force actually made it less likely that military power would be necessary to stop the rogue nation. Israel must not allow the international community to weaken the pressure on Teheran, Livni said, adding that any "lack of action" on the part of the world community could be interpreted as weakness by Iran and its neighbors. "Coming to terms with Iran can be interpreted as weakness. We tell the people with whom we are in contact that this is a region in which you either beat the bully, or you join the bully. The world is being tested through its response [to Teheran's nuclear program]," she added. Livni also said that the international community must stand strong against certain countries that had tried to promote other policies, including agreeing to negotiate with Teheran before receiving proof it had ceased uranium enrichment. Israel, she said, had begun to emphasizes to the world that it was not just the United States that could and should take a lead role in stopping Iran, but also European states, with whom Livni said Israel had been holding "intimate" conversations concerning the subject. In those talks, she said, Israel had been emphasizing that Iran did not just present a threat to the Jewish state, but that through Teheran's development of long-range surface-to-surface missiles, European capitals could also find themselves between the crosshairs. Livni said the current tension with Iran was completely separate from the Israel-Arab conflict or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that even if either of those conflicts were to be resolved, the tensions with Iran would continue. Teheran, she added, was working hard to prevent any peace process from yielding fruit. In the Gaza Strip, she said, Iran has developed "very intensive involvement" with the area's Hamas rulers. Teheran was "in direct communication with Hamas and acts to stabilize the regime in Gaza through streaming money, training and weapons to the area," she said. Iran's involvement with Hamas was not simply a threat to Israel but also to the Palestinian Authority and to Egypt, Livni said, and no peace deal concluded with the PA could be considered complete unless a solution was also found for the Gaza Strip. "Just as they say you can't fight terror without creating hope, the opposite is also true," she said, referring to the situation in Gaza.