Jerusalem: Israel is not “enthusiastic” about using military means to stop Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on 14 March.
“The central issue bothering Israel nowadays is Iran,” Olmert’s office quoted him as telling representatives of the American Jewish Council.
“I have said before, and I still believe, that we prefer a diplomatic solution to the issue, and we are not enthusiastic about a military solution,” he said during the meeting here.
Believed to be the region’s sole if undeclared nuclear power, Israel has accused Iran of trying to make an atomic bomb under the guise of a civilian nuclear programme, a charge Tehran denies.
Israel considers Iran’s nuclear programme to be an “existential threat” after its hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeatedly called for the Jewish state to be wiped off the map.
Olmert has in the past said Israel did not “rule out” taking military steps against Iran.
Also Wednesday, ultra-nationalist Minister for for Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman accused European leaders of willing to “sacrifice” the Jewish state to preserve economic ties with Tehran.
“There are elements in Europe that are ready to sacrifice Israel on the alter of their security, of their trade contracts” with Iran, Lieberman said.
“We saw the same phenomenon before World War II. That is how they sacrificed Czechoslovakia. That is how they ignored the Jewish problem,” he said, referring to when European powers allowed Nazi Germany to annex areas in central Europe on the eve of World War II.
“I can see no other explanation to the opposition of some elements in Europe to imposing severe sanctions against Iran,” he told public radio.
Six world powers — the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany— were set on 14 March to resume efforts to agree new sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear defiance amid signs they are nearing agreement on a new resolution.
The Security Council slapped a first round of sanctions on Iran in December.