An Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear facilities won't destabilize the Middle East, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview to a French magazine on Tuesday, adding, moreover, that such a move would only serve to restore security in the region.
"Five minutes after [an attack], contrary to what the skeptics say, I think a feeling of relief will spread across the region," Netanyahu told Paris Match, adding: "Iran isn't popular in the Arab world, far from it. Some governments in the region, as well as their citizens, have understood that a nuclear-armed Iran would be dangerous for them, not just for Israel."
The premier's interview, one to which he gave much importance, was geared at influencing public opinion in France ahead of his visit to the country on Wednesday.
So important was the interview, in fact, that the Prime Minister's Office asked Israel's Embassy in Paris to obtain several copies in advance, thus allowing the PM to take the article with him to some of his meetings in France, as well as to bring hard copies of the interview with him when he returned to Israel.
However, despite Netanyahu's assertive rhetoric on the Iranian issue, his visit to Paris was mainly meant as an election season photo-op. Already in his address to the UN late last month, Netanyahu said that there wasn't a need to reach a decision on the Iranian issue until next summer, a fact that characterizes the comments during his interview to Paris Match as attempts at diplomatic leverage and campaign propoganda.
While in Paris, The premier is expected to meet French President Francoise Hollande, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
On Thursday, Netanyahu plans to attend a memorial service at Ohr Torah (previously known as Ozar Hatorah) Jewish school in Toulouse, where a teacher and three children were killed in an attack earlier this year.
Netanyahu is interesting in leveraging the visit to France in order to prove to Israeli voters that his cabinet's foreign policy did not lead to Israel's isolation in the international community, and that he was welcomed the Western capitals with red carpets and embraces.
In addition, the premier will try to use his meeting with Hollande to turn over a new leaf in Israel's relations with France, an attempt to cover up his shaky ties to former French President Nikola Sarkozy, who, at one time, called the Israeli PM "a liar."