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Ex-Mossad chief: Ahmadinejad is Israel's greatest gift

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Haaretz

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's incendiary anti-Israel outbursts have united the international community against his country, thus serving a key Israeli interest, former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy told an American-sponsored Arab satellite television network on Tuesday.

"Ahmadinejad is our greatest gift," Halevy told the Arab language television network Al-Hurra on Tuesday. "We couldn't carry out a better operation at the Mossad than to put a guy like Ahmadinejad in power in Iran."

Halevy added that the Iranian president's extremist statements "proved to everyone that Iran of today is an Iran that is impossible to live with. [Ahmadinejad] unites the entire world against Iran."

Halevy told Time magazine in an interview published last month that an Israeli attack on Iran "could have an impact on us for the next 100 years" and should only be considered as a last resort.

Halevy, who currently heads the Center for Strategic and Policy Studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, added that an Iranian attack on Israel would probably have little impact, because Iranian missiles would largely be intercepted by Israel's advanced anti-missile defense system.

Another former senior Mossad official, who reportedly served during Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's administration, told the American magazine that "Iran's achievement is creating an image of itself as a scary superpower when it's really a paper tiger."

An additional Israeli source told Time that Israel sees the period between the U.S. elections in November and the president's inauguration in January as the "window of opportunity" for a possible attack on Iran. The source explained that any military move against Iran would not be carried out before the elections, because it would negatively impact the presidential candidates, especially Republican candidate John McCain and "No Israel leader wants to be blamed for destroying the Republican chances," Time cited the source as saying.

However, the magazine quoted intelligence sources as saying that an Israeli attack on Iran would likely stall the Islamic republic's nuclear aspirations only by "a year or two."

Launching a long-range strike against a multitude of hidden targets in Iran entails huge risks and uncertain rewards, which makes the cost-benefit analysis weigh against an air strike on Iran, according to some senior Israeli officials who urge caution.

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