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Jewish Press — March 25, 2018

Newly-installed US National Security Advisor John Bolton encouraged Israel to attack Iran when the latter served as US ambassador to the United Nations, former IDF Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz said Sunday.

“I got to know John Bolton when he was the US ambassador to the United Nations (for a short stint during 2005-06 under then-President George W. Bush),” Mofaz said. “He tried to convince me that Israel should attack Iran.”

Speaking on a panel of former IDF chiefs at a conference hosted by the Hebrew-language Yedioth Aharonoth daily, Mofaz added that he did not believe that a military strike on Iran would be a wise move – for either Israel or the United States.

Notably, all the retired military leaders on this specific panel – Benny Gantz, Dan Halutz, Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon and Mofaz – said they felt it would be a mistake for US President Donald Trump to annul the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 deal signed between Iran and the leaders of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – as well as Germany and the European Union.

As a candidate, Trump pledged to “rip up” the Iran deal on his first day in office, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has repeatedly blasted the deal, saying the international community allowed itself to be hoodwinked by Tehran and comparing the deal to 1938 the Munich Agreement and the Anglo-German Declaration, which then British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain celebrated as “peace for our time.”

At the same time, three of the four chiefs of staff – Mofaz, Gantz and Ya’alon – agreed that a nuclear-armed Iran would present an existential danger for the State of Israel. Only Halutz, who led the army through the 2006 Second Lebanon War – said that Israel must think creatively about how to deal with a nuclear Iran because it is, essentially, an unstoppable eventuality.

“Pulling out of the deal will signal a ‘starting line’ for Iran (to make a strong push to create a nuclear weapon,” Halutz said, adding that ultimately there is no way to prevent a country from obtaining nuclear arms if it is determined to do so.

Halutz’s colleagues were less circumspect about the possibility of facing a nuclear Iran but took a variety of views on how to address that possibility. Mofaz said that the threat was an existential one, and added that Israel would do everything necessary – as it has done, and will continue to do – to ensure that Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons.

“There is no way to ensure Israel’s future with a nuclear Iran,” Mofaz said, but he added that attacking Iran could ignite a regional war.

Still, Benny Gantz stressed that Israel should not “get hysterical” about the issue, but also said a nuclear Iran would pose a threat to the entire world, not just to Israel. “The world must take care of this issue,” Gantz said. “It is in the interest of the international community.”

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