(The Daily Caller).In a wide-ranging interview for a profile to be published by The Daily Caller next week, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren told TheDC that despite reports that Iran’s nuclear program has experienced serious setbacks, the Islamic Republic remains a pressing threat.
When asked whether the comment reportedly made this month by lionized outgoing Mossad chief Meir Dagan that the “soonest Iran will have a nuclear device is 2015, if that,” means Iran is no longer the immediate threat it was once thought to be.
“I have great regard for Meir Dagan,His assessment is one assessment of one person. It’s not an assessment that reflects all of Israel’s intelligence community or Israel’s military community or Israel’s political echelon.”
“There are other opinions out there, and the other opinions are that we do not have a lot of time here.”
Asked whether the ongoing pro-democracy, anti-government demonstrations in capitals across the Arab world were welcomed by Israel, Oren responded cautiously, saying while Israel “welcomes democratization,” it is concerned about the stability of neighboring states crucial to its security.
Oren explained that the Israeli government is particularly worried that the popular uprisings will be hijacked by Islamists.“Well, I think Israel welcomes democratization of the Middle East. I think we see democratization as a factor for stability, Looking forward to any future Palestinian state, we want that Palestinian state to be democratic. At the same time we have concerns about the stability of some neighboring states whose stability is very important for us and important for the peace process.”
“We are concerned lest the uprising in Tunisia goes the way of the uprising in Iran in 1979 — what began as a sort of secular, very diffuse, popular movement was rather quickly hijacked by Islamic extremists because they are the most organized and best-funded of these groups. And there very focused. They know exactly what they want. And it’s always a danger in the Middle East that these movements can be hijacked”.
Asked what he thinks of the recently leaked “Palestine Papers,” which some contend show that the Palestinians were willing in 2008 to make major concessions for peace, Oren initially said that documents didn’t reveal very much other than the fact that the current Palestinian position refusing to have face-to-face peace negotiations without an Israeli settlement freeze is a farce.
“I don’t think they reveal very much, In terms of the Palestinian position, I think they tend to reveal the settlement in Jerusalem issues that have been very prominently – that had been portrayed as being major obstacles were not obstacles for the Palestinians in previous rounds of peace talks if you believe the veracity of these documents, so that’s significant”.
“I don’t think that the Wikileaks or Palileaks prove that they [the Palestinians] were willing to make peace with us, In fact, there were major issues there that they weren’t willing to concede like Ma’ale Adumim and no Israel government – right, left, center – is going to give up Ma’ale Adumim. It’s a huge suburb of Jerusalem. But the fact of the matter is at the end of the day — and this you will hear from all the participants, particularly from Condoleezza Rice who went to the Middle East 26 times to try to mediate this – it was Abu Mazen that turned the deal down. It wasn’t Ehud Olmert who turned it down. That’s a matter of record. And just because it is not in these records, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Everybody knows it. He turned it down.”