Former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Moshe "Boogie" Ya'alon was quoted as saying by an Australian newspaper this week that the West must consider all options necessary to stop Tehran's nuclear program, including assassinating Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
An associate of Ya'alon said, however, that the fomer IDF chief's comments on the necessity of considering assassination were taken out of context.
The associate noted in a statement that Ya'alon confirms he said it is possible to defeat the Iranian regime through economic, political, diplomatic means, and that military means are to be used as a last resort.
"He said that any other quotes on this matter are incorrect and have been taken out of context," the associate said.
In an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, published in Australia Monday morning, Ya'alon said: "We have to confront the Iranian revolution immediately. There is no way to stabilize the Middle East today without defeating the Iranian regime. The Iranian nuclear program must be stopped."
When asked whether "all options" included a military deposition of Ahmadinejad and the rest of Iran's current leadership, Ya'alon told The Herald: "We have to consider killing him. All options must be considered."
Ya'alon, who served as IDF chief from 2002 through the final year of the Palestinian Intifada in 2005, also told The Herald that a military strike on Iran would be welcomed by regional elements as quelling the most divisive conflict in the Middle East today.
"Any military strike in Iran will be quietly applauded by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf states," he was quoted by The Herald as saying.
"It is a misconception to think that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the most important in the Middle-East. The Shiite-Sunni schism is much bigger, the Persian-Arab divide is bigger, the struggle between national regimes and jihadism is much bigger," he was quoted as saying. "And I can't imagine the U.S. will want to share power in the Middle East with a nuclear-armed Iran."
The former army chief told the paper he has long seen Iran as the source of regional terrorism and was surprised the United States chosen to invade Iraq in its stead.
"I was chief of staff during Operation Iraqi Freedom and I was surprised the U.S. decided to go into Iraq instead of Iran," The Herald quoted him as saying. "Unfortunately, the American public didn't have the political stomach to go into Iran."
Ya'alon made headlines last week when he announced that he would be running for the Knesset on hardliner Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud list, after weeks of being courted by the opposition leader.
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