Speaking on the Israeli Independence Day, Ya'alon said that Iran's nuclear power posed "The most significant threat – not only to the State of Israel, but also to the Middle East and developed countries. Tehran has been developing for the past few years a military nuclear program the repercussions of which might be tragic.
- Iran says it test-fired new land-to-sea missile in Gulf
"A nuclear Iran could launch an arms race in the Middle East and spread nuclear weapons among terror groups. This could be the western world's nightmare."
Ya'alon, Gantz (Photo: Ido Erez)
Earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the Iranian nuclear threat, saying that Iran must be stopped from achieving nuclear ability. Over the recent weeks we have witnessed the results of a tyrannical regime in the possession of nuclear weapon. We've seen how sanctions and verbal threats don’t always help."
"If Iran gets nuclear weapon, it will change the world. We can't let that happen. We must stop it for the sake of humanity and we're running out of time."
Meanwhile, Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Fereidoun Abbasi said Tuesday that Tehran could possibly start enriching uranium to the purity level of 50%, but that some ships and submarine engines need to be fueled by 45% to 56% enriched uranium, the Fars news agency reported.
The Iranian nuclear chief nonetheless insisted that the country does not plan to reach enrichment levels above 20%.
'Israel is safest in Mideast'
The defense minister also addressed regional threats in his speech Tuesday, saying that "Hezbollah and Hamas are armed with tens of thousands of various rockets and missiles, which they will launch at our cities and citizens when ordered to do so. Even now, and despite the achievements of the Pillar of Defense Operation, southern towns endure rocket hits. We will not tolerate such incidents and will retaliate."
Ya'alon added that "Though Hezbollah is busy fighting for Bashar Assad 's regime in Syria, it is ready to confront Israel, and will be backed by Iran and Syria. Hezbollah is Tehran's executive officer, both in assisting Syria and in threatening us. The Lebanese citizens and leaders must realize that Lebanon will be considered responsible for every Hezbollah attack on Israel and will pay the price."
The minister also addressed the economic crisis that has been reigning the Middle East, saying "the fact that Arab countries are currently preoccupied with themselves and their own survival and economic crises… stops them from focusing on us. Moreover, Israel is nowadays the safest place in the Middle East; an island of stability, democracy and progress. Not only the younger generations in Arab countries can see that via the media, but also leaders of Arab countries."
'Peace seeking people'
Referring to the Palestinian issue, Ya'alon said that "nowadays, additional attempts are made to create a road map that would lead to renewed direct negotiations between us and the PA. We are a peace seeking people – that is the way we have always been and that is the way we will always be, until the end of days.
"Our arms are extended in peace towards our neighbors, and of course this includes our Palestinian neighbors."
The defense minister stressed that "The State of Israel is ready to enter initiate dialogue without preconditions with our Palestinian neighbors, in an attempt to reach a historic reconciliation and a permanent solution, which for us mean recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people and an end to the conflict, while answering our security needs."
Ya'alon further added "We want the Palestinian residents of Nablus, Jenin or Ramallah to live in dignity, to be able to provide for their families in dignity, to live a meaningful and productive life. This is not just our interest – this is also our most fundamental principle as Jews and human beings.
"Unfortunately, it is indiscernible that the Palestinian Authority's leadership truly strives for the resolution of the conflict, as the most basic condition – the promotion of the culture of peace among the younger generations – is nowhere to be found in their education system.
"We, in any case, will continue to turn every stone to resolve the conflict. But, if we are to enter a diplomatic process we must do so realistically, without illusions."
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop