Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton is urging Israel to attack Iran in retaliation for the killing of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, saying the time has come for the Jewish state to quit threatening and take action.
“This is obviously a very dangerous period for Israel with the civil war in Syria, refugees reported going across the border into Lebanon, and Hezbollah well armed with rockets on Israel’s northern border,” Bolton told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Thursday night. “So I think if there were ever a time to retaliate, and directly against Iran this time, this is it.”
American and Israeli officials on Thursday linked the suicide bomber who killed the Israeli tourists to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which is clearly backed by Iran.
“This was a tit for tat,” one American official told the New York Times, suggesting the attack on the tourists in Bulgaria was a response to he assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, for which Tehran blamed Israel.
Bolton, however, said the tourist bus bombing in Bulgaria was not just “a tit for tat operation” initiated by Iran, but was timed for “maximum effect.”
He noted, for example, that the Bulgaria killings coincided with the 18th anniversary of a bombing against Israelis in Buenos Aires and comes as new tensions with Iran are building over its efforts to develop a nuclear-weapons program.
“I mean, this is clearly — it was timed for its max effect. And that’s why I think Israel is perfectly entitled to respond,” said Bolton, now a Fox News contributor. “It’s not just a tit-for- tat operation. This is self-defense, to dissuade Iran, if it’s susceptible of rational calculation, not to do this again.”
Calling Iran “the central banker of terrorism,” Bolton said things would only get worse for Israel and the rest of the world “once they get nuclear weapons.”
“If Israel waits until Iran gets nuclear weapons and then Iran continues to engage in these kinds of terrorist attacks, Iran really can do it with impunity because Israel risks a nuclear response from Iran,” he said, noting that the Jewish state is “entitled to stop the attacks at their source.”
Turning to the situation in Syria, Bolton said he wasn’t surprised at China and Russia’s veto Thursday of U.N. sanctions against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
“It was a mistake to believe that the United Nations was ever going to have any impact on Syria,” Bolton told Van Susteren. “The Russians are committed to Assad.”
Bolton said it was important to remember Iran “is also a major backer of the Assad regime,” which is yet another reason, he suggested, that Israel should act.
“Their hands are in every area of difficulty in the region and nearby,” he added.
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