Israel on Friday denied a New York Times report that emissaries for US President Barack Obama were sent to Israel last year to stop Israel from launching a unilateral strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.
According to the report in Friday's Times, the White House feared that an Israeli strike was in the offing, prompting Obama to send a message to Netanyahu not to attack prior to the November 2012 US presidential election and to give time for sanctions to work.
The Times quoted Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev as saying that the report was "completely untrue."
Regev said that “no such emissaries were sent with that message. The American position to us is clear and has always been clear, that Israel has the right to defend itself by itself against threats.”
The prime minister's spokesman declined to comment on how close Netanyahu came to launching strikes against Iran.
“I’m not commenting on what the prime minister was doing or not doing, thinking or not thinking,” Regev said. “I can’t tell you what the Americans were thinking. I can tell you what messages were delivered, and it’s not true.”
During his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week, Netanyahu said that Israel would not accept a nuclear armed Iran, and would "stand alone" if necessary to achieve that aim.
The Times reported that Obama's failure to call for the dismantling of Iran's nuclear program in recent public statements, instead repeating that Tehran must simply prove that the program is peaceful in nature, angered the Israeli delegation to the UN General Assembly.
The paper quoted a former senior US official who met with the Israeli delegation as saying that Obama's choice of words “really riled the Israelis on their trip.”