Netanyahu and Biden
Photo: Flash 90

Netanyahu to ask US to threaten Iran

Prime minister expected to tell Joe Biden that 'only military threat will prevent use of military force' in Iran. Meanwhile, municipality plans approval of east Jerusalem construction in move reminiscent of VP's last visit to Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to meet US Vice President Joe Biden Sunday evening and relay to him a severe message regarding Iran's nuclear program, effectively sidelining the issue of the direct peace talks.


"The only way to make sure that Iran does not arm itself with nuclear weapons is to create a credible threat of a military operation against it if it does not cease the race for nuclear armament," a statement from Netanyahu's office said.


Iran has recently been strapped with an additional set of sanctions by world powers, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Saturday they had been more effective than he had previously thought they would be.


"The economic sanctions may be burdening Iran, but there has been no sign from the ayatollah regime that it plans to halt its nuclear program because of this," Netanyahu is expected to tell Biden.


"The only time the Iranian regime halted its nuclear program was in 2003, when they believed there was an actual chance for an American military operation against them. Paradoxically, only an actual military threat on Iran can prevent us from applying real military force."


Israeli officials have appeared increasingly more preoccupied with the Iranian issue recently, with IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi telling high-school students that the army was "taking seriously" threats against Israel by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.


Another Biden crisis?

Meanwhile, in an uncanny repetition of events, construction plans in east Jerusalem are once again scheduled to come up for municipality approval as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets US Vice President Joe Biden.


On Monday the Jerusalem Planning and Construction Committee is scheduled to approve 32 new housing units in Pisgat Ze'ev, which lies on land captured by Israel in 1967.


During Biden's last visit to Israel 1,600 housing units were approved in Ramat Shlomo neighborhood, sparking a diplomatic crisis between Israel and the US, which was pushing for direct peace talks.


For a few months now the municipal committee has been issuing permits for ever-increasing construction in Pisgat Ze'ev, as part of a larger plan including 220 homes.


Yosef (Pepe) Alalo, Opposition chairman in the municipality and a member of the Meretz Party, accused Mayor Nir Barkat of attempting to embarrass the prime minister.


"The mayor is trying to thwart all attempts at reaching an understanding. I don't know if he did this with the prime minister's knowledge, but it cannot be that Barkat can't be stopped," he said.


"The 32 homes are not the problem, as all of us, including the Palestinians, have agreed that Pisgat Ze'ev is an integral part of the city. The problem is with unilateral decisions meant to humiliate the Palestinian leadership. These things could be done differently if we had reached an agreement and not only engaged in provocation."


But Yair Gabai, a member of the planning committee, claims there is no time to waste if the battle against climbing housing prices in Jerusalem was to be won. "There is no discrimination, religious or national. We must approve construction in all areas of the city and the applicant's religion or nationality is of no significance," he said.



פרסום ראשון: 11.07.10, 20:30
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