Israelis prepare public for conflict with 'genocidal' Iranian regime

By Anne Penketh in Herzliya, Israel
Published: 22 January 2007

Senior Israeli politicians and analysts appear to be preparing the public for military conflict with Iran as the Iranian President again refused to bow to international demands to curb its nuclear ambitions, and Tehran announced fresh military manoeuvres.

Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu told a security forum in Herzliya yesterday that individual states and companies should go beyond the UN economic sanctions. He argued that the first step should be to invoke financial sanctions to "divest genocide" and "delegitimise the regime of Iran through economic and political pressure".

The hawkish Likud leader added: "Either it will stop the nuclear programme without the need for a military operation, or it could prepare for it. When we are talking about rallying public opinion on genocide, who will lead the charge if not us? No one will come defend the Jews if they do not defend themselves. This is the lesson of history."

Talking to journalists, Mr Netanyahu said he doubted that the "genocidal regime" of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was "deterrable". This view was shared by Shmuel Bar, an Islamic specialist at the Herzliya centre, who said that the US and Iran were engaged in "very dangerous brinkmanship". He said that seen from Tehran, "the conspiracy theory goes that the US, with the UK and Israel, will take action to topple the Islamic regime, and that this has nothing to do with the nuclear issue."

Tehran has shown no sign of yielding to UN demands to halt uranium enrichment. "The resolution was born dead and even if they issue 10 more it will not affect Iran's economy and policies," Mr Ahmadinejad said yesterday in a televised speech.