Sunday, April 22, 2012
Ya'alon: Debate over Iran attack is not about if, but when
Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon says extreme jihadist ideology cannot be appeased through dialogue • Iranian envoy in Azerbaijan says Iran has evidence proving its claim that Israeli spies were operating there. Shlomo Cesana and Israel Hayom Staff The debate in Israel over a possible attack on Iran centers on the point at which "Israel will feel a knife at its throat," Vice Prime Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon said on Saturday.The minister made the comments during a cultural discussion held over the weekend in Beersheba. Ya'alon stated that the debate over an Iran attack focuses not on whether Israel should attack Iran, but when. The phrase "knife at our throat" in the context of Iran was first coined by former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who stressed that an Israeli attack on Iran should only come when Israel feels it has no other choice. Echoing Dagan, Ya'alon said on Saturday, "My experience with war is that it should only happen as a last resort." During the discussion, Ya'alon also referred to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech on Holocaust Remembrance Day, in which he compared aspects of the Holocaust to the current Iranian threat. "There is a lot of sensitivity implicit in the comparison between 1938 and the present day. This sensitivity is understandable,” Ya’alon said. “There is nothing that can be compared to the Holocaust, but some of the typical Western behavior that we saw on the eve of the Second World War is being displayed again today. The attitude of ‘Let's avoid confrontation, let's postpone confrontation to next year, to the next political term. Let's yield, concede.' In that respect, the Western world hasn't changed." "We are facing the threat of extreme jihadist ideology which cannot be appeased through dialogue," he said. Ya’alon stressed that people living in New York and London must also be made aware "that there is threat here." "The Iranians impact every conflict in the Middle East in some negative way," he said. "The Western world must stand up to this threat." Meanwhile, Iranian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Mohammad Baqer Bahrami said recently that Iran had substantial evidence and documents proving its claim that Israeli spies were operating in Azerbaijan, Iran's Fars news agency reported Saturday. "The Quds-occupying regime [Israel] is a cancerous tumor. It is a reality that the regime disturbs security wherever it goes since its nature is intermingled with terrorism and espionage," Bahrami was quoted by Fars as telling the Azeri daily Yeni Musavat. He noted that evidence gathered from assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists shows Israeli espionage activity and operations in Azerbaijan. "I assure you that there are documents to substantiate this claim," the ambassador was quoted as saying. "High-ranking Iranian officials, especially ministers, would never make such utterances without evidence and documents." Bahrami reportedly declined to give further details about the case. The Fars agency reported that Azerbaijan recently harbored Mossad agents who fled Iran after assassinating an Iranian nuclear scientist. Bahrami's claims come after senior American diplomats and military intelligence officers told Foreign Policy magazine recently that the U.S. now believes that Israel has been granted access to air bases in Azerbaijan, which shares a border with Iran. “The Israelis have bought an airfield,” a senior official told Foreign Policy in early February, “and the airfield is called Azerbaijan.” Israel’s ties with Azerbaijan, a Muslim country that became independent with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, have grown as its once-strong strategic relationship with another Iranian neighbor, Turkey, has deteriorated. For Israeli intelligence, there is also a possible added benefit from Azerbaijan: its significant cross-border contacts and trade with Iran’s large ethnic Azeri community.