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Olmert: Netanyahu 'Irresponsible' on Iran

Former prime minister: "No reason to get uptight" over Iran; blames government for causing panic.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 8/12/2012, 9:42 PM

Ehud Olmert (right)
Ehud Olmert (right)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert accused the government Sunday of creating "hysteria" over Iran and said that there is no need for an immediate strike against its nuclear facilities.

"There is no reason to get uptight," he said in a panel at the Ono Academic College, "certainly not in the immediate range. Iran has still not drawn near to that threshold that would force us to reassess the situation. I think it is not right and not responsible to act in a way that blatantly ignores the interests of additional bodies, among them those of the greatest friend that Israel has."

Olmert was referring, of course to the United States, which opposes an Israeli strike.

He blamed senior members of the government and Knesset of "blabbing" too much about a planned strike and named Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak as people causing "fear and discomfort" in the Israeli populace by talking too much.

He hinted at the successful bombing of a Syrian nuclear plant during his tenure as prime minister and said: "In my term, we encountered a similar situation, supposedly, and we handled it efficiently without a [public] debate and without saying a single word, either before or after."

"I recommend highly that we handle this struggle, too, in a controlled way, without hysteria, without panic in judgment, cool headedly and responsibly. That we refrain from creating a situation that has a dimension of confrontation with elements that are essential for Israel's security."