President Shimon Peres on Thursday distanced himself from the Israeli premier’s comparison between the Holocaust and the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear programme.
“It’s not the same thing,” Peres told the Ynet website of Yediot Aharonot newspaper in an interview for Israel’s independence day.
“Holocaust is one thing and Iran is another. The comparison is out of place. But I’m not a literary critic and the prime minister expressed his opinion on the matter,” he said.
In a speech last week to mark the Nazi Holocaust, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “People who refuse to see the Iranian threat have learned nothing from the Shoah (Holocaust).
“They are afraid to speak the truth, which is today, as it was then, that there are people who want to annihilate millions of Jews,” the hawkish prime minister said.
“The truth is that an Iran in possession of nuclear arms is an existential threat to the State of Israel.”
Israel, the United States and many other countries suspect Iran of using its civilian nuclear programme to mask an arms drive, something Tehran vehemently denies.
There has been growing concern the Jewish state might carry out military strikes on Iran in a bid to destroy, or at least severely disable, the nuclear programme.
But Peres voiced confidence the sanctions imposed on Iran by the international community would prove an effective deterrent.
“Every person can judge this for himself. I believe we can handle the Iranian threat. The United States leading and Europe joining (them) — it’s not just lip service,” he said.
“They, like us, cannot afford to have a nuclear Iran and they want to stop it. As for Hitler, the world was asleep then. This couldn’t happen today, the world has woken up,” he said.
“Israel can defend itself but we are not alone, and that’s a plus, not a minus. I believe what (US President Barack) Obama says. There is no need for saber-rattling, but there is a need to impose sanctions and political pressure.”