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attack iran the day iraq war ends, demands israel

  1. ISRAEL’S Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has called on the international community to target Iran as soon as the imminent conflict with Iraq is complete.
    In an interview with The Times , Mr Sharon insisted that Tehran — one of the “axis of evil” powers identified by President Bush — should be put under pressure “the day after” action against Baghdad ends because of its role as a “centre of world terror”. He also issued his clearest warning yet that Israel would strike back if attacked by Iraqi chemical or biological weapons, no matter how much Washington sought to keep its controversial Middle Eastern ally out of any war in Iraq.

    He made clear that western Iraq would be one of the first areas targeted by the US in any invasion, saying that lessons had been learnt from strategic mistakes of the 1991 Gulf War when Iraq successfully fired 39 Scud missiles into Israel.

    Mr Sharon, 74, was speaking as he conducted high-level negotiations to keep his Government afloat after the desertion of his centrist coalition partners. Last night he survived three no-confidence votes, giving him more time to forge a coalition with small right-wing parties. He rejected calls for early elections.

    The Knesset also approved the appointment of Shaul Mofaz, the hawkish former Israeli Army chief, as Defence Minister.

    But even as the Knesset voted, a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up inside a shopping centre in central Israel, killing at least one other person and injuring 20.

    In other significant changes of tone and policy, Mr Sharon told The Times that:


    Yassir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, could have an ongoing role as a “symbol”, but could not have a role overseeing financial or security functions. This was a departure from previous statements that Mr Arafat was entirely “irrelevant”.

    Mr Sharon himself would continue to lead the country, elections willing, for up to five years. There had been widespread speculation that he would retire within two years.

    The Israeli Government is considering an unprecedented crackdown on the Islamic movement within its own borders, fearing that a “small minority” of Israeli Arabs are turning against the country.

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