Was Schalit deal a sign that Israel is ready to attack Iran?
This is an interesting analysis by Abraham Rabinovich at the Washington Times that interprets the 1000-1 exchange for captured soldier Gilad Schalit as a way of "clearing the decks" for action against Iran's nuclear program:
Amir Oren, the veteran military analyst for Ha'aretz newspaper, took note of Israel's exchanging 1,027 Palestinian convicts for army Staff Sgt. Gilad Schalit, who had been captured by Hamas in 2006. Mr. Oren wrote that the price paid by Mr. Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak "can be interpreted only in a context that goes beyond that of the Gilad Schalit deal."
He noted that Israeli leaders in the past have shown a readiness to absorb "a small loss" in order to attain a greater success, generally involving "some sort of military adventure."
Mr. Oren also noted that, until recently, Mr. Netanyahu had faced opposition to attacking Iran from Army Chief of Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and Mossad intelligence chief Meir Dagan. Both retired earlier this year and have been replaced by men believed to hold a different view on Iran.
The Islamic republic has not been a top agenda item since the outbreak of the Arab Spring. Yet Iran's nuclear program, which Western nations believe is geared for making an atomic bomb, has remained a key concern, despite Tehran's denials that it is seeking to build a nuclear weapon.
According to Israeli media reports, a shift in the Israeli government's views on Iran might have prompted Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's Middle East visit in April: His main mission was to pass on a warning from President Obama against any unilateral attack on Iran.
Could Israel afford to wait until after a presumed conservative, pro-Israel administration takes office in January, 2013?
It would be cutting it close with Iran as far as their progress toward a nuclear weapon. But without American backing, an Israeli attack on Iran would totally isolate the Jewish state. Sanctions would probably be voted at the UN, along with an angry response from the EU. Obama might not veto a sanctions resolution from the UNSC, and would almost certainly cut off military aid to Israel.
Even though they would be taking a chance by waiting more than a year, it is not likely Israel will attack Iran until after the American election. They need America in their corner if they are to withstand the whirlwind of opposition to any attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.