Lieberman: Israel will not attack Iran - even if sanctions fail
Foreign minister also expresses doubts about reaching a peace agreement with Syria.
Israel will not attack Iran even if the international sanctions against Tehran fail to convince President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to give up his country's nuclear program, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told the Austrian daily Kleine Zeitung.In an interview published this weekend, Lieberman was asked whether Israel planned to strike Iran as a last resort.
"We are not talking about a military attack. Israel cannot resolve militarily the entire world's problem. I propose that the United States, as the largest power in the world, take responsibility for resolving the Iranian question," Lieberman told the paper.
"The best way to stop Iran's nuclear program is through severe sanctions, very severe sanctions," he said. "The resolutions of the UN Security Council are insufficient. Iran must be presented with harsher and more effective sanctions. It worked against Libya. We must isolate Iran; only this way will results be possible."
Lieberman reiterated his position that Iran is an international problem.
"It is unacceptable that a head of state, a member state of the UN, calls daily for Israel's destruction. Iran's cooperation with North Korea, [Venezuelan President] Hugo Chavez and Syria is evil incarnate, but this is not our problem," he said.
"It's a problem of the entire region and the whole international community. Representatives of the Arab world have discussed with us recently not the Palestinians, but Iran. The Arabs recognize that their existence is not threatened by Israel, but by Iran."
Lieberman, meanwhile, expressed doubts about a peace agreement with Syria. "We must recognize the reality," he said. "To date Syria has hosted the leadership of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. It supports Hezbollah and its arms smuggling into southern Lebanon. It supports Iran's nuclear program, and I see that it is only tightening its links with Tehran. For this reason I cannot see Syria as a genuine partner to any sort of agreement."
He said that before negotiations, the Syrians "must cease their support for terrorism and close the centers of the terrorist organizations. Only then will be able to begin discussing our future ties."
The paper also asked Lieberman if Israel would be willing to negotiate with Hamas. "This is impossible. How can the government of Israel talk with someone who says daily he wants to destroy Israel and kill all the Jews?"
He said that "Hamas continues to plan terrorist attacks and smuggle arms as it did before. Look at how many Fatah members Hamas has killed. These are unbelievable scenes."
Lieberman also said the "diplomatic process is not the most important thing for achieving a viable peace. First we need to achieve a number of things for both peoples, otherwise the diplomatic process will fail. The most important thing for us is security, because we do not want to live with terrorism and rockets on a daily basis. The most important thing for the Palestinians is the economic situation ... Beyond this, stability is needed."
Lieberman also said he rejects the formula of land for peace. "To date this idea did not have real results. What was the result of [Israel's] withdrawals? Hezbollah and missiles. This idea does not work."