Israel to let Obama know if it attacks Iran

There are a couple of ways to take this news. The spin put out by the administration is that it is a major concession by Israel. But in reality, I don't think it changes Israel's plans one iota.

I assumed that Israel was always going to notify America if it planned to strike Iran for the logical reason that they will almost certainly have to overfly Iraqi airspace to reach the nuclear sites. The other route is much longer and in the end, Israeli jets would have to overfly Turkey to reach the Gulf.

Aluf Benn of Haaretz is reporting that CIA chief Leon Panetta paid a visit to Israel a few weeks ago and got a pledge from the leadership: No surprises on Iran:

Israel has acceded to American demands by pledging to coordinate its moves on Iran with Washington and not surprise the United States with military action.

During a trip to Jerusalem earlier this week, CIA chief Leon Panetta informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that U.S. President Barack Obama demanded that Israel not launch a surprise attack on Iran. The message expressed concern that Israel would cause an escalation in the region and undermine Obama's efforts to improve relations with Tehran.

However, the content was nothing new: The Bush administration also sent tough messages to Jerusalem a year ago, including a demand that it not strike Iran. Israeli officials believe that U.S. foreign policy professionals are vehemently opposed to an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, so this position was transmitted from the previous administration to the present one.

The U.S. expects Israel to coordinate its military actions with Washington, a condition to which Jerusalem has agreed due to its dependence on U.S. aid. Senior officials in the Bush administration testified to Congress that Israel had consulted them before deciding on its 2007 air strike on an alleged Syrian nuclear reactor. They said Israel had explained that it considered the Syrian project an existential threat and therefore had to act.

"Coordinate" its moves is a very loosely defined term. There may have been a secret agreement that gives Washington 24 or even 48 hours notice of an attack so that America can at least put its vulnerable facilities in the Gulf and Iraq on alert.

But it's hard to see Israel bringing Washington in much sooner than that. Israel well knows that they have enemies in the Obama administration - even in the intel agencies - who might leak the information about an Iran attack which would almost certainly cause a scrubbing of the mission.

I think with Netanyahu in office, the odds of an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites have gone up dramatically - say, better than a 50-50 probability. Considering that last year, those odds were considerably less, you would have to say that the situation has changed.

Given the progress of Iran's nuke program, it may be a very hot summer in America and around the world.