Former Mossad Director: More Than One Military Option Against Iran
Iran’s suspected illicit nuclear program can be stopped militarily by hitting targets other than the country’s nuclear sites, the former chief of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency said in a rare interview.
“You don’t need to hit only the immediate, direct nuclear infrastructure of theirs. You can achieve this goal by going after some other targets, without being more specific,” said Shabtai Shavit, who served as Mossad director from 1989 to 1996.
Shavit made these comments during an interview on “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio” on New York’s WABC Radio. He was responding to a hypothetical question about whether a U.S. military strike could successfully eliminate Iran’s nuclear program. Some of Iran’s scattered nuclear installations are known to be deep underground, with some reportedly positioned atop civilian zones.
Iran recently concluded 10 days of military exercises along the Straits of Hormuz, a vital oil route that sees 33 percent of the world’s seaborne oil shipments pass through each year. Last week, Iran’s top naval commander boasted that closing the Persian Gulf to oil tanker traffic would be “easier than drinking a glass of water” but that his nation would not do so for now.
During the radio interview, Shavit predicted that Iran would not act on its threats for the time being. “I don’t believe that their threat will be materialized. I do believe that in this case the Iranians are going to be at the end of the day pragmatists and not messianic,” the former Mossad chief said.
Shavit said Iran will be deterred for now by the presence of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, as well as by recent statements from the Pentagon warning that Iran’s closing of the Straits “will not be tolerated.”
Shavit said the international community is rightly focusing on sanctions to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions. He suggested, however, that stronger sanctions are needed besides the current restrictions being debated that would target Iran’s oil exports. “In addition to the purchase of crude oil, the Western world should stop selling Iran oil products since Iran doesn’t have the domestic capability to refine oil.”
Shavit said sanctions should target Iran’s central bank. “Such a package,” he said, “may impose on the Iranians to do serious thoughts to meet the Western world’s demands from them.”
Hamas, PA Mull Ways To Reverse Recognition Of Israel
Hamas and the U.S.-backed Palestinian Authority are studying the possibility of removing the Palestinian government from agreements that recognize the existence of Israel.
Both PA and Hamas officials confirmed that the possibility is being studied as part of reconciliation talks aimed at seeing Hamas enter the Palestine Liberation Organization, or PLO, the main Palestinian governing body. The PLO is currently dominated by PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, which is funded and armed by the U.S. and the international community.
Despite news media claims to the contrary, the PLO never formally recognized the existence of Israel. Nor did it officially amend a section of its charter that delegitimizes Israel. Instead, late PLO Leader Yasir Arafat simply stated that a section of the PLO charter that calls for the destruction of Israel has been nullified. Arafat later put that statement in writing. However, according to PLO regulations, a vote of PLO members must first be taken to amend the charter. Such a vote was never held.
Still, as part of the 1998 Wye River Accords, Arafat committed the PLO to nullifying the section of the PLO charter denying Israel’s right to exist. Other accords signed by the PLO recognize Israel.
It was unclear what mechanism Hamas and the PA would implement to change the PLO’s commitments if indeed Hamas enters the Palestinian national government.
Hamas Fears Rival Groups In The West Bank
The Hamas terrorist organization has been quietly studying the possibility of confiscating weapons from rival jihad groups in the Gaza Strip.
According to Egyptian security officials speaking to this column, Hamas fears that other Palestinian factions, particularly the Islamic Jihad terror group in Gaza, will be used to do Iran’s bidding against Israel, forcing the Jewish state into a major operation in Gaza.
Hamas fears a confrontation with Israel could impair the political momentum that has been building in its favor amid the regional tidal wave of changes in the Middle East, including the recent parliamentary elections in Egypt that saw major gains for Hamas’s ideological parent, the Muslim Brotherhood.
At the same time, Hamas is leaning in the direction of launching from the West Bank within weeks a “popular intifada,” or so-called low-grade Palestinian campaign of demonstrations and rock throwing, the Egyptian security officials said.
The officials said Hamas views such a tactic as helping to bolster its control in the West Bank, which has traditionally been dominated by its political rival, Fatah.