Sharansky: Iran Strike Inevitable If Diplomacy Fails

Thursday, 14 Jan 2010 02:59 PM

By Jim Meyers

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Former Soviet dissident and Israeli politician Natan Sharansky tells Newsmax that a military strike by Israel on Iran’s nuclear facilities is inevitable if a diplomatic solution cannot be found.

Sharansky spent 10 years in Soviet prisons for his political activism, and after his release in 1986 he went on to serve in numerous positions in the Israeli government. Former President George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006.

In an exclusive Newsmax interview, he held out hope that an Iranian regime change from within could end the threat that would be posed by a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic. To that end, he said he would like to see “support of the free world for Iranian democratic dissidents. Some of them I know personally very well. I still believe that there is a chance that there will be regime change.”

To see the video of Newsmax's conversation with Mr. Sharansky — Click Here.

But if that doesn’t happen and diplomatic efforts fail, he said, Israel will be left with “no choice but to deal with this problem. Israel cannot afford to live under the threat of extinction, of a new holocaust. And I only can hope that, if we’ll have to do it, the free world will be standing with us.”

Sharansky made several other points in his interview:
  • Despite President Barack Obama’s differences with the Israeli government, Sharansky still regards Obama as a friend of Israel. “I think that every president of the United States is a friend of Israel because there is no other ally in defending democracy and human rights in that part of the world, except Israel,” he said.
  • In a 2008 interview, Sharansky told Newsmax that then-presidential candidate Obama had “a little record or almost no record.” He alluded to Obama’s lack of experience in his Tuesday interview, saying: “I think the American president had an opportunity during this year to learn better the difficult situation in the Middle East, and to work accordingly.”
  • The Israeli government’s decision to freeze the construction of Jewish settlements in occupied areas, which the Obama administration insisted upon as a precondition to Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, will not have a positive effect on negotiations, Sharansky opined. “Unfortunately, each time when Israel makes another concession, the only answer we hear from Palestinian leaders is that it’s not enough. And they are using every opportunity to miss another opportunity for peace negotiations. I’m afraid they are going to do it again.”
  • Israel could launch another military offensive in the Gaza Strip if Palestinians escalate the rocket and mortar attacks they recently resumed, Sharansky said. “Of course I hope that we will not have the need to use our military. On the other hand, we do need to protect our population. And while the regime of Hamas becomes more and more totalitarian and oppressive towards its own population, it becomes more and more dangerous for us.”
  • Sharansky sees signs of hope in the West Bank that are missing in Gaza. “I always believed that peace will never be brought from [the top] to the bottom, will not be imposed, but will be built from the bottom up, meaning that democratic reforms in society can bring peace. And we can see in the West Bank the first signs of building a free economy, the first signs of bringing more security, from the bottom up. In [Gaza], the totalitarian regime is becoming more and more totalitarian and that’s why there is less and less hope for a peaceful solution.”
In Sharansky’s most recent book, “Defending Liberty: Its Indispensible Role in Protecting Democracy,” he argues that identity is essential to ensure the survival of a democracy.

Asked if America retains such an identity now, Sharansky responded: “I think America is built on the idea of strong identities fighting for democracy, and from this point we can see the difference in the development of European civilization and American civilization. I hope that Europe will learn from America to appreciate its identity, and not vice-versa.”

To see the video of Newsmax's conversation with Mr. Sharansky — Click Here.

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