SPIEGEL Interview with Avigdor Lieberman: 'It Is a Clash of Civilizations'

By Martin Doerry and

Part 4: 'Iran Is Threatening the Whole World'

Photo Gallery: An Escalation in Middle East Tensions Photos
REUTERS

SPIEGEL: What is the bigger danger for Israel: a nuclear Iran or Teheran's support for Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah?

Lieberman: The biggest danger is the indecisiveness of the international community. Iran is threatening the whole world. It is not coincidental that they do not celebrate an "Independence Day," but the "Day of the Islamic Revolution." Revolutionaries always try to export their revolution, that was the case with the Bolsheviks and also with Che Guevara. Therefore, we see Iranian activities in the whole world: in Africa, in South America and of course in the Middle East: with Hamas, Hezbollah or Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq. They are all proxies of Iran.

SPIEGEL: And that's why Hamas weapons dealer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh had to be killed by the Mossad in Dubai?

Lieberman: You must have seen too many James Bond movies. I also saw the video of the Dubai police on TV, but there are is no proof whatsoever.

SPIEGEL: All the evidence points to Israel: The agents used identities of Jews who immigrated to Israel from Britain and Australia.

Lieberman: We are cooperating with Britain and Australia in the investigations. They sent police inspectors to Israel.

SPIEGEL: So you are saying it was not the Mossad?

Lieberman: We are fighting the terror every day. We try, despite everything, to remain a democracy with clear rules. I expect more understanding about our problems in the world.

SPIEGEL: One of the alleged killers used a German passport which he received on the claim that his parents were Holocaust survivors. The German Federal Prosecutor opened an investigation on charges of murder and spy activity. Will Israel answer a German request for help in this investigation positively?

Lieberman: We will assist as much as we can. We have very close cooperation between Germany and Israel, on all levels.

SPIEGEL: There is irritation within the German foreign intelligence service, the BND, because Israel killed a Hamas guy while the BND was negotiating on Israel's request with Hamas over the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

Lieberman: We appreciate all your efforts in the case of Gilad Shalit.

SPIEGEL: Within the BND it is said that the Israeli governent backtracked from an agreed prisoner exchange at the last minute.

Lieberman: I am not commenting on that. We will do everything we can to close this highly sensitive chapter.

SPIEGEL: There seems to be a good chemistry between you and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. You smoked a cigar together in Jerusalem.

Lieberman: Westerwelle is a very serious politician. I think he represents Germany with dignity.

SPIEGEL: Most of the Germans have a different opinion. They think, Westerwelle behaves more like the leader of the opposition than a foreign minister. Why are you always perceived as the bad guy?

Lieberman: People can choose between the sweet lie or the bitter truth. I say the bitter truth, but many people don't want to hear it.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Foreign Minister, we thank you for this interview.

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