It seems that the prime minister is now trying to get an American commitment to a U.S. led military action in 2013.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau gave rare interviews to the Israeli media yesterday (Netanyahu usually prefers to speak to international reportes, who don’t bother him with political issues). Israel’s Hebrew channels and the Russian channel got 15 minutes each, on the condition that they won’t be edited. The messages were the same on every platform, explaining the new taxes, and, more important, answering recent headlines regarding the alleged opposition of the army and Mossad chiefs for a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.
“In the Israeli democracy, the one to decide is the ministerial level, and the one to carry out the decision is the military,” said Netanyahu, and added: “I haven’t made up my mind yet.”
The interesting part is what Netanyahu didn’t say. At no point did the prime minister counter the now common view – which was the top headline in Yedioth Ahronoth yesterday – that the army’s Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and the head of Mossad Tamir Pardo oppose the attack. Quite the opposite, the prime minister declared that despite other opinions and objections, the decision whether to attack lies with the government. In other words, Netanayhu basically confirmed that the security establishment opposes the attack.
This is no small thing. With all Netanyahu’s rhetoric on the historical hour and the second Holocaust, eventually both the prime minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are bound by politics. The public image as if it’s only the two of them pushing the attack means that a failure will fall on their own shoulders, since they ignored the opinion of the professionals. It’s not easy to go to war without a national consensus.
I agree with Larry Derfner that the chances for an Israeli strike are very low, given the objections inside the security establishment. I think that Netanyahu is now trying to negotiate an American promise to attack by a certain date in 2013. An American led attack would eliminate the risk of political fallout resulting from a military failure, and save Netanyahu the need to fight with the entire security establishment (we shouldn’t forget that he already replaced a chief of staff and head of Mossad which were against the attack).
The window of opportunity everybody is talking about is apparently not a window for an actual Israeli strike, but an opportunity to use the unique political circumstances in the U.S. in order to increase the likelihood of an American attack.