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Olmert calls for ‘dramatic increase’ in Iran isolation

The international community must “dramatically increase” its efforts to isolate Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told an AIPAC conference.

“The Iranian threat must be stopped by all possible means,” Olmert said to applause at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual policy forum. “International economic and political sanctions on Iran, as crucial as they may be, are only an initial step, and must be dramatically increased.”

He called for “drastic measures” that would make clear to Iran “that the repercussions of their continued pursuit of nuclear weapons will be devastating.”

“Sanctions can be imposed on the export of gasoline to Iran and they can be imposed on countries which refine gasoline for Iran,” Olmert said. “Governments should announce that Iranian businessmen are no longer welcome in their countries, and that funds arriving from or channeled to Iran should not be transferred through their banks.”

Olmert’s proposals dovetail with existing and new congressional legislation backed by AIPAC – the 7,000 activists attending the conference will lobby for a squeeze on refined petroleum when they meet with 500 lawmakers on Wednesday on Capitol Hill.

Olmert also warned that Israel does not count out the option of a major strike against the Gaza Strip unless the rocket attacks enabled by its Hamas rulers stop.

“Israel will not be deterred from a large military operation in Gaza if and when we come to the conclusion that this is the best way to restore calm on our southern border,” he said, “but the fact that no such operation has yet taken place does not imply that we are not taking action.”

The prime minister also stressed the need for peace talks with Syria and the Palestinians, and praised the president of the Palestinian Authority.

Olmert’s speech emphasized bipartisan U.S. support for Israel; delivering the speech, he added at least three references to several in the written text that extolled the support enjoys from both parties.

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