Bibi to US officials: Divest from Iran

Don't unnecessarily sow panic inside Israel, Olmert says

netanyahu 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
netanyahu 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The "guiding purpose" of the Israeli government, from the prime minister on down, must henceforth be to thwart the genocidal ambitions of Iran's Islamic extremist regime, opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu has said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. The full interview with Netanyahu will appear in Friday's Post. Netanyahu will on Thursday address members of Parliament in London to urge that Britain join the international campaign to charge Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with incitement to genocide. The Likud leader is being joined in the UK by fellow Likud Knesset member Dan Naveh and Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs head Dore Gold, co-initiators of the bid to have Ahmadinejad put on trial. Speaking to the Post before his departure, Netanyahu said he had no doubt that, "just as in the case of Nazism, militant Islam will eventually be defeated by the forces of freedom… It is an untenable thing, to twist reality and society to agree with your creed. It just doesn't last." However, the problem for the Jewish nation, he went on, was "what happens in the interim. In the case of Nazism, it went down after it took with it a third of the Jewish people. In the case of militant Islam, it plans to take down immediately that half of the Jewish people who have converged on Israel." But while the Jews, dispersed and without a state, were defenseless in the case of Nazism, he said, "we do have [the powers of statehood now]." And these sovereign powers had to be used, he said, to act against militant Islam and to mobilize others. "On the international front there are many things we should be doing that we're not doing," he charged. "For example, this effort to delegitimize this [Iranian] regime through bringing Ahmadinejad to trial for inciting genocide… Or the gathering of initiatives to get divestment from pension funds and other financial institutions that invest [in Iran]." Stopping Iran "has to be the guiding purpose of the government," Netanyahu said. "It has to be handled first and foremost by the prime minister, and from the prime minister down to levels of government. It is a time of emergency." Netanyahu's activity, however, is drawing some fire in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was quoted as saying in a private meeting that Netanyahu needed to stop "scaring" the country about an "existential threat just in order to grab newspaper headlines." These comments were not meant as a criticism of Netanyahu for going abroad and warning of the Iranian threat, but rather as a jab at the way Olmert believes his political rival is unnecessarily sowing panic inside Israel. Nevertheless, there are diplomatic officials in Jerusalem who believe that the Likud leader's high-profile appearances abroad actually damage attempts to mobilize international opinion against Iran. According to this school of thought, some of the moderate Arab regimes that are fearful of a nuclear Iran are more hesitant to make their positions known publicly when it appears that Israel is taking the lead in this matter. Sources in the Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, said that Netanyahu's anti-Iranian campaign abroad is not against the Foreign Ministry's policy. At the same time, the sources said there was displeasure when Netanyahu criticized the government's policy on Iran, saying that not everything the government was doing on the matter could and should be published.