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PMO: Early elections, Iran strike unconnected
By LAHAV HARKOV
06/05/2012
Iran was not mentioned once during talks about whether and when to dissolve the Knesset and hold early elections, PMO source says; denial comes in response to Channel 2 analysts' theory.
 
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 on Saturday.

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.

According to 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 necessary.”

Iran and the early election are two separate issues, he added.

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 severe.”

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.
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