by Staff Writers
Jerusalem (AFP) Jan 27, 2013
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said he would seek a broad and stable coalition to deal with Iran's nuclear ambitions and the possible transfer of Syrian weapons.
"The entire region is raging and we must be prepared, strong, and determined in the face of any possible development," he told his cabinet ahead of its weekly meeting.
Local media said that the military deployed two Iron Dome missile defence batteries to northern Israel for the first time on Sunday, reflecting growing tension around the border with Syria.
A military official would not confirm to AFP where the batteries were sited but said that moving batteries around was part of routine training.
Netanyahu said that regional tensions were "Why I will strive to form a government as broad and stable as possible, to deal with all the significant security threats facing Israel."
Netanyahu is expected to be formally tasked by President Shimon Peres in the coming days with forming a coalition, after legislative elections last week in which his joint list won most seats in the parliament.
In his remarks, Netanyahu referred to International Holocaust Day, which is marked on Sunday, and accused Iran's leaders of "denying the existence of the Holocaust, while preparing what they think will be the next Holocaust -- destroying the Jewish state."
"They are not stopping their incessant and systematic race to obtain nuclear weapons to reach that end," he said. "We do not take those threats lightly, and will prevent them, this is our first priority as a government and people."
Netanyahu has frequently warned about the danger of Iran's nuclear programme of uranium enrichment, which Israel and much of the West believes hides a weapons drive.
He has refused to rule out the option of unilateral military action if all other ways to halt the programme fail.
Israel is itself widely believed to be the Middle East's only nation with an atomic weapons capability.
The premier on Sunday stressed the need to "look around, at what is happening in Iran and its proxies, what is happening in other arenas with lethal weapons in Syria, which is falling apart."
According to reports in Israeli media, Netanyahu last Wednesday convened an emergency discussion with the security establishment and his inner cabinet on the situation in Syria and the risk of it losing control over its arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.
Iraq MPs appeal for calm after protesters killed
Their visit to the predominantly Sunni town 60 kilometres (35 miles) west of Baghdad came amid high tensions in the former insurgent bastion, where two soldiers were killed and three kidnapped on Saturday, a day after troops opened fire on demonstrators, killing eight.
The unrest came as lawmakers opposed to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki adopted a measure that would bar him from holding office beyond next year after weeks of angry rallies in mostly-Sunni areas against the Shiite premier's rule.
"We are sorry for what happened in Fallujah," said Shwan Mohammed Taha, a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and part of a parliamentary committee assigned to investigate the unrest.
"We hope that everyone calms down until the truth becomes clear."
The shootings have dramatically ramped up tensions in Fallujah, with one Sunni Arab tribal leader giving authorities a one-week ultimatum to hand over the soldiers responsible for the killings.
Meanwhile, the head of the committee Khaled al-Attiya promised that the MPs would submit a report within 48 hours to parliament, after reviewing evidence and hearing witness accounts.
Friday's demonstration had been moving into Fallujah but was blocked by soldiers, who then opened fire after protesters began throwing bottles of water at them. Eight were killed and 59 wounded.
The following day, separate gun attacks on checkpoints and guard posts in Fallujah left two soldiers dead, one wounded, and three kidnapped.
The Fallujah demonstration was one of several across Sunni-majority areas of Iraq that have raged in recent weeks, hardening opposition against Maliki amid a political crisis ahead of provincial elections due in April.