Israel decision on attacking Iran 'far off'?

Rick Moran
So says Ehud Barak, Israel's defense chief. But there are two ways one can interpret that statement.

1. It may be a ruse to lull the Iranians into a false sense of security; or

2. Consensus in the cabinet on whether to go ahead and bomb the nuke facilities is lacking.

I lean toward the latter. Washington Post:

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday that Israel was "very far off" from making a decision on a possible strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. The remarks appeared to be part of an effort to allay American concerns that Israel is preparing for an attack despite Washington's objections.

Barak was interviewed on Army Radio on the eve of a visit to Israel by the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey. Dempsey is scheduled to arrive Thursday for talks with Barak and the Israeli army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, and possibly also with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It will be Dempsey's first official trip to Israel since assuming his post in September.

[...]

Israel, which views Iran's nuclear program as an existential threat, has repeatedly hinted that it could take military action should international sanctions fail to halt what it says is an effort to develop atomic weapons.

Asked in the radio interview whether the United States had pressed for advance notice of a possible Israeli strike on Iran, Barak said: "We haven't made a decision to go ahead with this matter. We have no date for making decisions. The whole thing is very far off...I don't want to provide estimates. It's certainly not urgent...I don't suggest that we deal with this as if it's about to happen tomorrow."

Barak added that both Washington and Israel "respect one another's freedom of decision."

I used to think that Israel cared about what Obama thought of their plans to attack Iran. Not anymore. Recent statements by Prime Minister Netanyahu appear to dismiss the possibility that Israel would accept a US veto over their actions. If the price of getting rid of Iran's nuclear threat is good relations with the Obama administration, the Israelis appear perfectly willing to pay that price.

But consensus in the cabinet still eludes the Iran hawks. I don't think there's any way Netanyahu initiates an attack if he's got a divided government. How that consensus can be reached will just have to await developments.



So says Ehud Barak, Israel's defense chief. But there are two ways one can interpret that statement.

1. It may be a ruse to lull the Iranians into a false sense of security; or

2. Consensus in the cabinet on whether to go ahead and bomb the nuke facilities is lacking.

I lean toward the latter. Washington Post:

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday that Israel was "very far off" from making a decision on a possible strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. The remarks appeared to be part of an effort to allay American concerns that Israel is preparing for an attack despite Washington's objections.

Barak was interviewed on Army Radio on the eve of a visit to Israel by the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey. Dempsey is scheduled to arrive Thursday for talks with Barak and the Israeli army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, and possibly also with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It will be Dempsey's first official trip to Israel since assuming his post in September.

[...]

Israel, which views Iran's nuclear program as an existential threat, has repeatedly hinted that it could take military action should international sanctions fail to halt what it says is an effort to develop atomic weapons.

Asked in the radio interview whether the United States had pressed for advance notice of a possible Israeli strike on Iran, Barak said: "We haven't made a decision to go ahead with this matter. We have no date for making decisions. The whole thing is very far off...I don't want to provide estimates. It's certainly not urgent...I don't suggest that we deal with this as if it's about to happen tomorrow."

Barak added that both Washington and Israel "respect one another's freedom of decision."

I used to think that Israel cared about what Obama thought of their plans to attack Iran. Not anymore. Recent statements by Prime Minister Netanyahu appear to dismiss the possibility that Israel would accept a US veto over their actions. If the price of getting rid of Iran's nuclear threat is good relations with the Obama administration, the Israelis appear perfectly willing to pay that price.

But consensus in the cabinet still eludes the Iran hawks. I don't think there's any way Netanyahu initiates an attack if he's got a divided government. How that consensus can be reached will just have to await developments.