Israeli deputy PM has strong views on Iran, Syria, Egypt

CNN  June 20, 2012
By Wolf Blitzer

(CNN) – Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz has been in Washington for high-level talks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other Obama administration officials, and Iran’s nuclear program is atop their agenda.

I asked him whether Israel was concerned about Iranian retaliation for the reports that Israel and the U.S. have undertaken joint cyberwarfare attacks against Iran’s nuclear program. “We have to be prepared for all kinds of cyberattacks against the State of Israel,” he said, adding that Israeli military action was certainly on the table.

“We have to be prepared for all options, but at the same time, I believe that there are other ways to stop the Iranian nuclear program.”

He expressed hope that severe international sanctions that are supposed to begin next month will work.

“From my perspective,” he insisted, “the military option is the last option.”

I asked whether that military option would be an Israeli, U.S. or joint operation.

“It is an option,” he said. “The U.S. should prepare it. Israel should prepare it. I believe it should be the leadership of the United States, and I see the prevention of an Iranian nuclear program as the acid test of the Obama administration.”

On Syria, Mofaz minced no words. “I believe that Bashar al-Assad is a dictator that is leading genocide against his own people. He is slaughtering his own people. He is slaughtering innocent people within Syria, and he will not survive.”

Eventually, he said, there will be massive desertions in the Syrian military. “This is the end of Bashar al-Assad.”

On Egypt, Mofaz expressed hope that Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate Mohamed Morsi would honor Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel if he were to take office. “He was very moderate during the campaign, and I hope that he understands the importance of the relationship with Israel and the fact that we have to safeguard the peace agreement between us.”

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