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'Israel should consider killing Iran Prez'

world Updated: Nov 24, 2008 13:46 IST

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Israel's former Chief of Staff, Moshe Ya'alon, being touted as a possible candidate for defence minister if Likud party wins the elections, has said the West must consider "all options" necessary to foil Iran's nuclear programme, including assassination of its president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"We have to confront the Iranian revolution immediately. There is no way to stabilise the Middle East today without defeating the Iranian regime. The Iranian nuclear programme must be stopped," Ya'alon told The Sydney Morning Herald in an interview.

When asked whether "all options" included a military deposition of Ahmadinejad and the rest of Iran's current leadership, Ya'alon reportedly said,"We have to consider killing him. All options must be considered."

Ya'alon, who served asChief of Staff during turbulent times between2002 and 2005 at the peak of second intifada told The Herald that a military strike on Iran would also be welcomed by regional elements as quelling the most divisive conflict in the Middle East today.

"Any military strike in Iran will be quietly applauded by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf states," he reportedly said.

"It is a misconception to think that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the most important in the Middle-East. The Shiite-Sunni schism is much bigger, the Persian-Arab divide is bigger, the struggle between national regimes and jihadism is much bigger," he stressed.

"And I can't imagine that theUS will want to share power in the Middle East with a nuclear-armed Iran," he further added.

The former Israel Defence Forces Chief said that hehas for long seen Iran as the 'source of regional terrorism' and was surprised that the United States chose to invade Iraq instead.

"I was chief of staff during Operation Iraqi Freedom and I was surprised the US decided to go into Iraq instead of Iran," he said adding, "Unfortunately, the American public didn't have the political stomach to go into Iran."

Last week, Ya'alon announced his candidacy for the Likud party list in the upcoming Knesset elections.

Meanwhile, an aide to the former Chief of Staff has denied that he suggested killing Ahmedinejad.

"He said that Israel needs to defeat the Iranian regime," the aide told The Jerusalem Post.