Netanyahu: J'lem Withdrawal Will Bring Iran to Capital

Opposition leader meets with US vice president, says Israeli withdrawal from Holy City would be blow for security, religious freedom

Avi Tuchmayer ,

Opposition leader Benyamin Netanyahu warned Sunday that an Israeli withdrawal from any part of Jerusalem would lead to the creation of an Iranian base in the heart of Israel.

"The Iranian threat (must be neutralized) before it arms itself with a nuclear bomb. In addition, Iran must be prevented from building its main bases in the region, from Gaza to Lebanon, and particularly in Jerusalem," he said.

Netanyahu has been warning about Iran's nuclear ambitions for more than a decade. His 1995 book Fighting Terrorism contains a chapter entitled "The Specter of Nuclear Terrorism" that focuses largely on the Islamic Republic, and outlines the history of Iran's nuclear installations at Bushehr and Isfahan and concludes with a chilling warning about terrorist groups and states obtaining nuclear weapons: "(They will)  invariably deploy them in the service of their aggressive purposes."

In addition to security issues, Netanyahu told US Vice President Dick Cheney that basic religious freedoms for non-Muslims would be endangered by ceding parts of the capital to Iran and its latest prodigy, the Hamas terrorist organization.

"Hamas, Iran and other forces affiliated with them will take control of it. They will threaten Jerusalem's wellbeing, Israel's security and the freedom of worship for millions of pilgrims and members of the different religions who visit the city today," he said. Cheney replied that the US administration understood the situation.  

Netanyahu also reiterated his call to the Shas Party to quit the government over ongoing negotiations over Jerusalem with the PA, which Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni confirmed on Friday. Earlier this month, the Shas party received some 185 million shekels in government funding for its institutions as part of its coalition agreement.