WASHINGTON – Israel's Ambassador to the US Michael Oren warned this week of an Iranian nuclear bomb that could wipe Israel off the map in seconds. "They could accomplish in a matter of seconds what they deny Hitler did, and kill six million Jews, literally," said Oren in his first public appearance in the US since being appointed to the post.
Speaking at the Aspen Institute annual convention, Oren stressed that, "Israel supports the Obama administration program of outreach and engagement with Iran. We believe that the president has America's best interest at heart. We believe he has the interest of the region at heart. We are concerned about the timing and the timeline of this engagement."
Dr. Oren was a guest of the high-profile conference, which hosts senior past and present US administration and Middle Eastern officials.
He warned that, on the Iranian issue, "There are clocks ticking all around. One of those clocks is the uranium enrichment clock, which will show that by a certain date the Iranians will have sufficient, highly enriched uranium materials to create a bomb that could literally wipe Israel off the map in a matter of seconds."
He added: "It's very important that we watch carefully what happens in Iran… the events in Iran have unmasked to the world the true nature of this regime. This is a regime that's willing to kill its own citizens; it will certainly have no compunctions killing other people in the region, Jews and Sunni Arabs alike."
'Palestinian incitement must stop'In a first reference as ambassador to the US-Israel conflict on the issue of settlement expansion, the new ambassador said: "I think that the Obama administration understands that settlements are not the only issue and that it's one of many issues. Another issue is the degree to which the Arab states are ready to embark on a process of normalization with us.
"I think that both the Israeli and the American side are working earnestly and ardently to try to find a compromise over the question of the degree to which the construction can continue in the settlements to accord for what we call 'normal life,' and I'm fairly confident that in the coming period we will find a solution for this."
Asked whether he believes the Palestinians will eventually recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Oren said that this could only happen as the culmination of a process that begins at schools and the education system. "It begins with changing textbooks that deny Israel's legitimacy and right to exist," he explained.
The ambassador stressed that incitement "is not the way to go. That does not lead to mutual recognition of the right of two peoples to their independent states. That process has to start now. We have recognized our obligations under previous agreements. One of these agreements talks for a sequential process in which Israel will find a solution for the settlements issue.
"But the Palestinians have to begin to end what we call hatred on their television sets, and in their textbooks. Without that you are raising generations to regard Israel as an alien, hostile, temporal state. and that is not a prescription for peace."