The Arab world will be “relieved” if Israel strikes at Iranian nuclear installations, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview published Wednesday by France’s Paris-Match weekly.
He said in case of an attack, “five minutes later, contrary to what skeptics think, I believe there will be a great feeling of relief throughout the region,” said Netanyahu, who on Wednesday began a key two-day visit to France.
“Iran is not popular in the Arab world, far from it,” he said in comments reported in French.
“And some neighboring regimes and their citizens have well understood that a nuclear-armed Iran is a danger for them, not only for Israel,” he said, without mentioning specific nations.
Netanyahu has warned that a nuclear Iran would pose an existential threat to the Jewish state and has repeatedly refused to rule out military action, fuelling speculation that an attack was imminent.
But he then appeared to pull back, pushing the deadline until spring or even summer 2013, ostensibly to allow time for international sanctions to work.
Iran denies Israeli and Western suspicions that its nuclear program is a front for a drive for a weapons capability.
Netanyahu also said economic sanctions aimed at forcing Tehran to abandon its nuclear arms program were biting “but have not impacted on the nuclear program in any way,” adding: “How do we know this? Because the regime is organizing tourist visits to its centrifuges.”
He said he would discuss “concrete ways of stepping up sanctions against Iran,” in his first face-to-face talks with President Francois Hollande.