These are turbulent times for Israel as developments in Iran, Egypt and Syria raise questions over security and Middle East stability.
Mohammed Shaikhibrahim of euronews talked to Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mohammed Shaikhibrahim, euronews: “Is Israel planning to attack Iran soon?”
Mark Regev: “So far, despite diplomatic pressure, despite economic sanctions, despite other efforts by the international community, the Iranian regime continues to march forward, to race towards a nuclear weapon – a weapon that will be aimed at my country and so it is very important that we keep all options on the table.
“So far, on Israel’s side, we have not taken a decision yet. But we know that if there is a decision to use military force, there are costs involved. I can only say the following: that the costs involved in not acting, the costs involved in seeing Iran proliferate and achieve a nuclear weapon, are obviously much greater and much more formidable.”
euronews: “Does Israel have the military might to end Iran’s nuclear ambitions?”
Mark Regev: “I never go into operational questions, I apologise.”
euronews: “Are you concerned that the Lebanese group Hezbollah could intervene? What do you make of Hassan Nasrallah’s latest speech in which he said the lives of thousands of Israelis will become a hell if Israel attacks Lebanon?”
Mark Regev: “We see him as a threat and we are ready to meet that threat and I would not suggest to anyone, especially not Hezbollah… it is easy to say words but I think he will be more cautious because it is not in his interest to start a round of fighting with Israel. He should not test us.”
euronews: “What is your position on the bloody events in Syria?”
Mark Regev: “We have expressed our outrage, our concern, our concern for the people of Syria who are suffering under this brutal regime. Everyday we see the reports of more and more killings of innocent people in Syria and it has to stop. Of course, in addition to those concerns, we have special concerns related to the large chemical weapons stockpile in Syria. We don’t want to see those chemical weapons reach the hands of extremists either from Hezbollah or from al Qaeda or from other extremist organisations.
“We want to see a Syria that, hopefully, will be more stable and a Syria that will live in peace with Israel. That is our hope but obviously we are not interfering, other than to say that we support the rights of the people of Syria to have a better government.”
euronews: “Do you feel Israel’s security is threatened by Hamas’s relationship with Egypt’s new ruling party?”
Mark Regev: “I can only say that we have a problem with Hamas. I mean Hamas took over the Gaza Strip and instead of investing in the future of the people of Gaza, instead of trying to build a better life for the people of Gaza, Hamas is stuck in a very extremist mode where they are investing in future conflict with Israel.”
euronews: “One last question…How do you respond to accusations that Israel killed Yasser Arafat?”
Mark Regev: “It is simply not true and I don’t think that anyone is taking these accusations seriously and I would remind the Palestinian side that all the documents concerning Mr Arafat’s health, concerning his medical treatment, all these documents are with them – either with the family or with the PA government. And so I say to them, instead of cultivating conspiracy theories, why don’t you just make everything public? That surely would clear up the matter.”
Full interview with Mark Regev