Why Netanyahu will not attack Iran

Though the public and media paints Netanyahu as a warmonger with a loose trigger, he does not do anything – ever.

Netanyahu 370 (photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)
Netanyahu 370
(photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)
We probably are the last ones in the country who don’t have a position for or against attacking Iran – or so it seems when you open a newspaper or watch television.
We are not proficient on the subject, we do not know the extent of Israel’s capabilities, how long the long arm of the IDF is, or how potentially dangerous the Iranian response. So we do not have a position on a strike.
But what we are familiar with, is Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and based on this knowledge, we feel pretty safe in betting there will be no Israeli attack on Iran.
Netanyahu has served cumulatively as prime minister of Israel already almost seven years – more than any prime ministers except David Ben-Gurion and Yitzhak Shamir (the latter of whom he will pass in a few months).
Now try to think of one big move Netanyahu made in his years as prime minister: peace agreement, a military operation, a secret attack, any serious initiative, something.
Maybe in the economic sphere? Nothing.
Unlike the “Bibi-phobia” that has spread among some of the public and media, that paints Netanyahu as a warmonger with a loose trigger, he does not do anything – ever.
As the head of the opposition or as an MK, he perhaps spoke emphatically, belligerent and threatening, but in practice, as prime minister, Netanyahu has no tendency to make big moves. He is not built for that, he is not there for that.
Netanyahu has a single purpose and it is to be the prime minister. And the problem with big moves is that they are dangerous and may, God forbid, shorten his term – so Netanyahu is doing everything to avoid them.
You’d think that Netanyahu’s two tenures as prime minister fell in a perfectly calm period, where there was no need to do anything, but when considering the previous officeholders and those who followed, that’s a little hard to believe.
Before Netanyahu’s first term, Yitzhak Rabin pushed the Oslo Accords, moved billions toward education and infrastructure, and opened the economy to the world. Ehud Barak, the prime minister who replaced Netanyahu after his first term in 1999, served less than two years (the shortest tenure of any PM), during which time the IDF withdrew from Lebanon and Barak went to Camp David.
Then the government was headed by Ariel Sharon, who launched 2002’s Operation Defensive Shield offensive in the West Bank, established the separation fence and then initiated and carried out the unilateral disengagement plan in 2005. Later, under Ehud Olmert’s watch, the country went to the 2006 Second Lebanon War and the 2009 Operation Cast Lead, destroyed the Syrian reactor according to foreign reports, and attacked weapons convoys in Sudan several times.
Obviously not all the initiatives taken by the prime ministers above were positive and ended well. Some of them proved to be disastrous.
And yet, without getting into a debate about the correctness of the steps, these initiatives indicate that those prime ministers had such objectives, and not just mere tenure as a goal.
In contrast, Netanyahu as prime minister has proven to be hesitant, taking very few initiatives, and the few he takes tend to get complicated – whether it’s his fault or not, such as the 1996 opening of the northern entrance to the Western Wall tunnels, the 1997 failed assassination attempt on Khaled Mashaal, and the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident.
So opponents of an attack on Iran can relax: Netanyahu will not take a move that could cost him his seat – even if he really is convinced that the move is necessary to the country’s security.
This story appears courtesy of Forbes Israel.
Translated by Moria Dashevsky