Bibi: Iran will exploit withdrawals

Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu has warned that any Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank will result in a power vacuum that Iran will exploit through proxy organisations.

“The promise of additional Israeli withdrawals today is that if the IDF moves out, Hamas moves in — and so does Iran,” he told a Jerusalem press conference on Wednesday. “We can stick to political correctness and pretend this is not going to be the case but it will be, because of the endemic weakness in Palestinian leadership and society.”

The Iranian quest for power was “not a local problem, but a global problem. Their goals are unlimited,” he told reporters at the Israel Project event. “We, the civilised community of nations, must do everything in our power to prevent Iran becoming a nuclear power.

“Iran is galloping to develop nuclear weapons,” Mr Netanyahu continued, pointing out that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmaninejad had just announced that Iran would be developing 6,000 new centrifuges at its nuclear plant in Natanz.

“If it looks like a nuclear programme, walks like a nuclear programme, smells like a nuclear programme, then it’s not a duck — it’s a nuclear programme.” Earlier in the day, Ma’ariv newspaper reported that Mr Netanyahu had told an audience at Bar Ilan university that the 9/11 attacks had helped Israel.

“We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq,” he was quoted as saying, adding that they had “swung American public opinion in our favour”.

Clarifying these remarks at the later press conference, he said: “I was referring to the shift in public opinion that had taken place in response to September 11 and other events. The international community began to appreciate the larger threat menacing all free society.”

    Last updated: 10:58am, May 29 2008