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Netanyahu says strike on Iran would be good for Arabs

PARIS (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought on Tuesday to convince Arab states that an Israeli military strike on Iran would benefit them, removing a potential threat and easing tensions across the Middle East.

Netanyahu has made a number of veiled threats to attack Iran's nuclear program and has appealed to the United States and the United Nations to set a limit for Tehran on its further development.

In an interview published on Tuesday with French magazine Paris Match, Netanyahu said such a strike would not worsen regional tensions, as many critics have warned.

"Five minutes after, contrary to what the skeptics say, I think a feeling of relief would spread across the region," he said.

"Iran is not popular in the Arab world, far from it, and some governments in the region, as well as their citizens, have understood that a nuclear armed Iran would be dangerous for them, not just for Israel," he said.

Israel, widely believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear power, believes Tehran intends to build atomic weapons and has consistently urged the West to increase up sanctions. Iran says it is enriching uranium for peaceful energy purposes only.

The United States and other Western countries have rejected Netanyahu's demand to set a limit for Iran and have urged him to refrain from military action to give diplomacy and sanctions a chance to work.

Netanyahu, who is running for re-election in January at the head of the right-wing Likud party, told the United Nations last month that a strike could wait until spring or summer when he said Tehran might be on the brink of building an atomic bomb.

During his two-day visit to France, Netanyahu will travel to the southern city of Toulouse with President Francois Hollande for a ceremony of remembrance for the victims of an Islamist gunman who killed seven people there in March, including three Jewish children.

(Reporting By Nicholas Vinocur; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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