The timing of early elections, expected to take place on September 4, has
nothing to do with Iran, sources close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said
The Prime Minister’s Office’s said it does not comment on
speculation, however, a source close to Netanyahu told The Jerusalem Post that
Iran was not mentioned once during talks about whether and when to dissolve the
Knesset and hold an early vote.
The denial came in response to a theory
floated by Channel 2 and Yediot Aharonot analysts that the prime minister and
Defense Minister Ehud Barak plan to launch an attack and cut off the Islamic
Republic’s nuclear capabilities in the coming months.
Channel 2’s theory, Netanyahu plans to bomb Iran immediately after the
elections, when a transition government that will include himself and Barak in
their current positions will run the country.
The reasoning behind such a
decision would be that the results of the vote – which polls show Netanyahu and
the Likud winning with almost twice as many votes as any other party – cannot be
changed at that point. In the US, presidential candidates would hesitate before
criticizing Israel so close to their election date.
The High Court has
ruled in the past that transition governments may not make major decisions,
unless they are especially urgent.
However, Barak said in a Friday
interview that “the diplomatic- security system will make decisions if
Iran and the early election are two separate issues, he
Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On criticized Netanyahu following the
reports, saying that a transition government does not have “the moral authority
or public legitimacy for such an operation.
“The thought to take
advantage of the moment when mom and dad are not home, while the president of
the US is busy with elections and the Knesset is not working, is childish,”
Gal-on said. “Mom and dad will come home, and the punishment will be
Another theory, in Yediot Aharonot, is that Netanyahu and Barak
plan to attack Iran shortly before the election, much like Likud founder prime
minister Menachem Begin did in Iraq in 1981. At the time, Begin was faced with
accusations that he timed the bombing in a way that was advantageous to his
campaign, but the then-prime minister said he ordered the attack because it was
best for Israel’s security at the time.
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich
said that Netanyahu’s government is “making a terrible mistake by turning the
Iranian threat into the central problem of Israel.” Iran should be presented as
the whole world’s problem, she explained in an interview with Channel 2’s Meet
the Press, and while “all options are on the table,” a military strike should be
the last option.
In addition, Yacimovich said Israel must be in complete
coordination with the US on the Iranian issue.
Daniel Clinton contributed
to this report.