Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday that Iran poses a strategic threat to Israel, warning that the Islamic Republic would transfer nuclear weapons to its Lebanese proxy Hizbullah.
"If the atomic bomb reaches Iranian hands it will reach other hands. International fears – not only Israel's – are that these weapons reach other players like Hizbullah," Olmert said, adding that the international community should take seriously the North Korea's claimed nuclear test.
Olmert is set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Tuesday to discuss Iran's disputed nuclear program and North Korea's claims that it successfully tested a nuclear weapon.
Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday (Photo: Reuters)
Speaking about Syria, Olmert accused Damascus of plotting to oust the government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.
"It is no coincidence that there is a Syrian decision, with Hizbullah, to bring about the fall of the Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora. All those demanding peace with Assad and long for the peace he is offering, should remember that the same Assad is mulling the fall of Siniora, the same Assad we are supposed to negotiate with a political solution when Khaled Mashaal acts freely there," Olmert said.
Diverting his attention to the internal agenda, Olmert said the Israel Defense Forces have been ordered to continue operations against Qassam attacks from the Gaza Strip and brushed aside claims that his government is not taking the issue seriously.
"We cannot allow ourselves the continuation of Qassam fire at this rate from Gaza. The fact that 17 terror activists were killed in the last couple of days is not a sign of restraint from our side. There is no restraint and there will be no restraint," he said.
He slammed Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal, who accused the government of not doing enough to halt Qassam fire on the city. "I never saw a bigger gap between capabilities to lip service. Leadership is also about the ability to calm and not only to incite the public," he said.
Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter called on the government to widen the scope of military operations in the Gaza Strip. "We only hear about surgical operations, and we need to expand the operation," Dichter said.
Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon told Olmert that had Qassams rockets been falling on Tel Aviv, the government would have responded differently.
Olmert said the government is doing more to protect Sderot that other governments did against terror attacks in Tel Aviv.
"I understand well people in Sderot. It is not easy to live in a routine of Qassam fire; we are operating and will continue to operate with all force against Qassam fire until we bring about a drop in this fire," he said.