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Olmert, Ashkenazi caution against Israeli strike on Iran

NEW YORK (JTA) — Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and ex-military chief Gabi Ashkenazi advocated against an Israeli military strike on Iran.

Olmert and Ashkenazi, the former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, made their remarks during speeches at The Jerusalem Post Conference in New York on Sunday, according to the host newspaper.

Both said that Israel should wait before launching an attack on Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program.

"There is enough time to try different avenues of pressure to change the balance of power with Iran without the need for a direct military confrontation with Iran,” Olmert said.

Ashkenazi said that Israeli forces “still have time” before needing to launch an attack, the Post reported. He added that “it is better to persuade our friends in the world and the region that [Iran] is a global threat.”

But Ashkenazi also called for tough sanctions on Iran and said that “Israel needs its own capability.”

"We need crippling sanctions and much more severe sanctions,” he said. “It might now be too late … It needs to be supported by a credible military threat on the table."

Former Israeli Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who last year called attacking Iran “the stupidest thing I have ever heard,” cautioned at the conference that Iran’s developing nuclear weapons “will lead to an arms race, not only in the Middle East but in the world," the Post reported.

He said that such a bomb would constitute a "serious threat to the region” and “a serious threat to the economy.”

Olmert, who also called for an international effort to stop an Iranian nuclear weapon, added that Israel should not publicly criticize President Obama.

"It is not a good strategy to fight with the president," Olmert said, according to the Post. "Israel needs to support and respect the president and not fight with him."
 

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