By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent and Reuters 22 January 2006

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Saturday night that, “Israel will not
accept Iran’s nuclear armament.” Speaking at the Herzliya Conference, Mofaz
said that although Israel is currently satisfied with the international
diplomatic efforts aimed at containing Tehran’s nuclear program, Israel must
prepare to defend itself.

Mofaz said that Iran poses a threat not only to Israel, but to the entire
world. He regarded Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “an oppressor” and
Syrian President Bashar Assas as “an optometrist with no vision.”

The defense minister reiterated his accusations that Iran funds terror
against Israel, a claim he made Thursday after Islamic Jihad carried out a
suicide bombing in southern Tel Aviv. According to Mofaz, last year Iran
transferred $100 million to Hezbollah to fund terror activities, some of
which was transferred to Palestinian organizations. Islamic Jihad, he said,
received more than $10 million from Iran and Hezbollah last year.

The speech addressed the Iranian people directly, with Mofaz saying,
“Ahmedinejad, his hallucinatory statements, his criminal actions and his
extreme views will bring disaster upon you. Do what you understand needs to
be done in order to prevent this.”

Mofaz also said Ahmedinejad should look at historical examples of others who
tried to destroy the Jewish people.

“You, who are leading your country in an ideology of hatred, terror and
antisemitism. You had better take a glance at history and see what became of
tyrants like you who tried to annihilate the Jewish people. They only
brought destruction upon their own people,” he said.

Ahmedinejad has said that Israel should be “wiped off the map” and has
questioned whether the Holocaust took place.

Regarding relations with the Palestinians, Mofaz said that if it becomes
evident that there is no peace partner, Israel must “take fate into her own

Such a move, he added, would include a withdrawal to defensible borders
while strengthening West Bank settlement blocs, demilitarization of
Palestinian areas, and protecting a united Jerusalem. To do so, U.S. and
international backing will be needed, he said, and added that he believes
that such a move would be widely supported by the Israeli public.

Also scheduled to appear at the Herzliya Conference, which is set to last
four days, are Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Likud Chairman Benjamin
Netanyhau and Labor Chairman Amir Peretz. Among the issues to be discussed
are Iran’s nuclear armament and its strategic implications, Israel’s
standing in Europe and the U.S. and a debate on defining Israeli territory,
which will consider the question of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and
the Jewish people.


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