WASHINGTON – Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren warned Tuesday night that Iran might unleash a wave of terrorist violence in the Middle East in retaliation for the tough new sanctions that passed the US Congress last week.
In an interview to the Foreign Policy website, Oren said, "What better way to divert attention from a sanctions regime than by starting another Middle East war?"
According to the Israeli envoy, Iran might respond to severe restrictions on its ability to buy gasoline and finance its state-owned companies by returning to the negotiating table, or use its connections to Hezbollah and Hamas to fight back by having those groups attack Israel and perhaps others.
The ambassador added that the international community must take this scenario into account, adding that "the next step is not to fall into that trap," Oren said, arguing that the world should not be deterred from enforcing the sanctions.
The test of whether the sanctions are having an effect will be if the Iranian regime reacts, either by coming back to the negotiating table or waging a proxy war on Israel or the West, he said.
Addressing the preparations for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to the White House next week, Oren clarified that contrary to the nature of the Israeli leader's two previous meetings with US President Barack Obama, this time the meeting will be public.
"There will be a big public component of this trip that will remove any perception of snubbery," Oren said. "There's going to be a lot of photographers."
The ambassador said Netanyahu would also meet with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, but will not be seeing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who will still be on trip to Europe.
Oren acknowledged that the American administration's approach had changed since Obama took office, saying that "the Obama administration is not a status-quo administration; it came in with a policy of change. It's not headed in a direction of abandonment, it's a shift and our job is to figure where that shift is going and how to adapt."