Antigovernment protests in Iran linked to the country's weakening currency have raised hopes in Israel that international sanctions are working to undermine Tehran, lowering the likelihood of an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear targets in the coming months, the Wall Street Journal recently reported.
"Everything has changed" since the outbreak of the demonstrations on Wednesday, an Israeli official said. "You can't say now that the sanctions are having no impact at all. It is self-evident.''
- Report: PM to ask Europe for tougher Iran sanctions
- Khamenei on protests: Iran will never bow to pressure
- Iranian police clash with protesters over currency plunge
According to a recent report published in the New York Times, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has criticized the West time and again over its lenient policies toward Iran, is planning to visit France and Germany in the near future in order to convince their leaders to toughen sanctions against Tehran.
The PM's plans appear to be another indication of a shifting Israeli emphasis, at least for now, toward efforts to stop the Iranian nuclear program by means other than military action.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported that official sources have clarified that there has not been a significant shift in Israel's stance on Iran.
However, in Israel, some have said that recent developments in the political system, mainly the reported rift between Defense minister Ehud Barak and Netanyahu, are the main reason for a shift in Israel’s Iran policy.
Reliable sources have further said that the matter of an impending Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities is not an issue. According to official sources, the talk of a political rift between Barak and Netanyahu has replaced the public discussion of an Israeli strike on Iran.
Iranian riot police clashed on Wednesday with demonstrators and foreign exchange dealers in the capital Tehran over the collapse of the country's currency, which has lost a third of its value against the dollar in a week, witnesses said.
Police fired tear gas to disperse the demonstrators, angered by the plunge in the value of the Iranian rial. Protesters shouted slogans against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying his economic policies had fuelled the economic crisis.
According to the Fars news agency, Khamenei told a group of "young Iranian elites" in the capital that "during the last 33 years, Iran has been faced with a wide range of political, security, military and economic pressure and sanctions, but the Iranian nation has not only neutralized these pressures through resistance, it has grown more powerful through resistance."
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