If the media are to be believed, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense
Minister Ehud Barak are intent on attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities this fall.
In the meantime, the cabinet has expanded the prime minister’s powers to push
through important ministerial decisions.
The Prime Minister’s Office said
this would improve governance, but opposition leaders described the move as
undemocratic, saying that critical decisions – such as ordering a strike on Iran
– should be taken only after a meaningful debate in the
According to Channel 2, Netanyahu and Barak are on the brink of
making a decision on Iran
because they don’t expect the US to take military
action, certainly not before its November elections.
administration has repeatedly urged Israel
to allow more time for international
sanctions and talks to halt Iran’s nuclear drive. And despite Republican
challenger Mitt Romney’s tough talk on Iran, government officials doubt that if
he were elected, he would be able to take any action in his first year as
A front-page article in Yediot Aharonot on Friday claimed that
“Netanyahu and Barak are determined to attack Iran in the autumn.”
daily’s two top commentators, Nahum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer, claimed – without
revealing their sources – that the aim of an initial Israeli attack on Iran
could be to encourage the US to join in. But Barak, they said, was of the
opinion that Washington would not go to war, and would do everything in its
power to stop one.
Netanyahu – according to Channel 2’s respected
diplomatic reporter, Udi Segal – is convinced that the only way to foil the
Iranian leadership’s plan to destroy the Jewish people is to thwart its nuclear
, even if only for a few years.
Segal, who also did not divulge
his sources, reported that both Netanyahu and Barak fear that in a matter of
just a few months, it will be too late to stop Iran. They see the window of
opportunity closing, and think we may have reached the moment of
On Sunday, papers ranging from the left-wing Haaretz to the
right-wing Israel HaYom cited US and Israeli sources as saying that Iran had
significantly escalated its efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Furthermore,
both US and Israeli intelligence supported this assessment.
press reports that the country – especially the home front – is not ready for a
war are to be believed, we have even more reason to be concerned.
should be noted that the offices of both Netanyahu and Barak declined comment on
these and other press reports of an imminent Israeli attack on Iran. They were,
however, probably leaked by sources close to the prime minister and defense
minister – or, alternatively, by officials who oppose Israeli military
Whatever the case, they should be taken seriously, and the
Israeli public must consider the possibility that such action might be
Asked about the latest media reports on Iran by Israel Radio
on Sunday, cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser’s answer was oblique. “There is too much
attribution of manipulation, which does not exist, to this or that official,”
“There are a great many things that are just as they are,
for better or worse.”
Where, then, does that leave us? The prime minister
said at the cabinet meeting on Sunday: “The threat to the home front is dwarfed
by another threat – Iranian nuclear power.”
This comment reinforced his
statement during a tour of the southern border last week that Israel cannot put
its fate in anyone else’s hands.
“Israel must and can rely only on
itself,” he declared. “No one can perform this role except the IDF and various
Israeli security forces, and we will continue to conduct ourselves in this
Netanyahu is undoubtedly correct, but Israel must keep the US – its
most important ally – in the loop regarding any action against Iran, without
giving up its right to make independent decisions.
Secondly, such fateful
decisions should be made in consultation with the cabinet, together with the
relevant security officials, behind closed doors, and not by the prime minister
and defense minister alone.
Finally, the public and the press must be
given basic information on what their role is, in the event of an Israeli
strike, especially when it comes to the home front. Otherwise, the media will
continue to feed public hysteria, which is certainly not desirable if we are in
fact bracing for such a scenario.