Netanyahu: Iranian regime 'unmasked'

PM says world can now understand Israel's concern; says events are of great historical importance.

Binyamin Netanyahu 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Binyamin Netanyahu 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
The true nature of the Iranian regime has been unmasked, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday. "I think that people now can understand many of the things that we have been talking about all these years." "I think what is happening in Iran is a fact of monumental and historical importance," Netanyahu told Italy's RAI television network. "I don't know how it will end, but I think that it is a deep expression of a desire for change, for freedom." Netanyahu was making his first visit to Europe since assuming office in March. "I think that anybody who supports freedom and supports human rights supports the effort of the people of Iran to regain their freedom," he said. "I don't think people are merely protesting, 'we don't want this or that particular president'…they want a change, which will allow them to walk the streets, to have empowerment of women, to have youngsters being able to make choices in their lives. I think that anybody who believes in democracy, as I do, understands that this is a remarkable example of civil courage. "I don't believe that this kind of thirst for freedom can be suppressed for very long. It may be suppressed further, but I think that two things are evident. One, the true nature of this repressive regime has been exposed and, two, there is in the Middle East something I haven't seen in my lifetime, and that is an awareness by everyone, not just Israel, but many of the Arab governments and I think many in the Arab public, including Palestinians, that we have a common challenge. We don't want to be overrun by this theocratic barbarism. We want a free life, we want a good life and we want a peaceful life." Netanyahu said the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran was now clearer to the world. "Right now, everybody understands that nuclear weapons in the hands of such a brutal regime could be very dangerous to the entire world." Asked if Israel was considering a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, Netanyahu said the issue was an international one. "I was very pleased to hear President Obama in my recent visit to Washington say that nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran is a strategic threat to the United States and to the peace of the world. Certainly it is to my country, but it is an international danger and it should be dealt with by an international effort led by the United States. That's our preference," he said. Meanwhile, IAF Commander Maj.-Gen Ido Nehushtan said Tuesday that the air force understands the role it may play in a potential Israeli military operation against Iran. "The state of Israel has said that any other solution is preferable. Nevertheless, the IDF understands that it needs to prepare options and the air force understands its role," Nehushtan told reporters ahead of a graduation ceremony for the IAF's pilot training course. Asked if the current unrest in Iran would have an impact on the threat, Nehushtan said "what's happening in Iran requires patience to understand." He also said the air force was closely watching developments in the Middle East in the field of military procurements. He said that the IAF was keeping a particularly close eye on the northern front - Lebanon and Syria. There have been reports recently that Syria is purchasing Russian fighter jets as well as advanced anti-aircraft missile defense systems. "We are all always watching over the armaments in the North. We study the consequences and how we will need to deal with them," he said. "Our assessment is that the other side will do what it can to impair the air force's operational abilities."