Bibi's Deputy Disagrees With Him on Iran

Dan Meridor Says 'Red Lines' Won't Work

By Reuters

Published September 13, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Benjamin Netanyahu’s deputy for intelligence and atomic affairs on Thursday broke with the Israeli prime minister’s call for Iran to be confronted with a “red line” beyond which its disputed nuclear programme would face military attack.

In a broadcast interview, Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor appeared to side with the United States in balking at Netanyahu’s repeated demand that it set Iran an ultimatum or risk seeing Israel launch region-rattling unilateral strikes.

Meridor’s remarks also underscored debate within the leader’s inner circle about potentially exacerbating the rift with Washington with a war that polls show most Israelis, including several senior security figures, would oppose.

“I don’t want to set red lines or deadlines for myself,” Meridor, one of several Netanyahu deputies who form the core of his security cabinet, told Israel’s Army Radio when asked how much time remained before force against Iran should be used.

He called for international sanctions against Tehran to be intensified “so it understands that the price it is paying is mounting and that the only way to be rid of it is to stop the (nuclear) race, to arrive at an agreement, or an international understanding, that it is calling it quits”.

“You always consider other options, for when everything else is exhausted. And I think that, for now, we have to continue with the pressure.”

That echoed U.S. President Barack Obama, who seeks reelection in November and has tried to champion continued carrot-and-stick diplomacy with Iran while fending off charges by Republican rival Mitt Romney that he is soft on the Jewish state’s security. Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons.

Netanyahu’s office did not immediately respond to the Meridor interview, which followed similar misgivings on Tuesday by Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, who publicly suggested the premier was undermining ties with the United States.

Though he did not mention Netanyahu by name, Meridor lamented what he called “the excessive chit-chat of recent months” in Israel about how and whether to tackle its arch-foe.

He spoke of the importance of U.S. diplomatic and defence assistance to Israel, and took a more moderate view of a nuclear-armed Iran than Netanyahu, who has likened that prospect to a second Holocaust.

“I don’t want to speak in apocalyptic … Holocaust terms,” said Meridor, a veteran member of the ruling, rightist Likud party. “I think that we are strong and we will overcome the challenges, but this is a serious challenge.”

Though widely assumed to have an nuclear arsenal, Israel’s conventional forces are designed for border wars and many experts - including the top U.S. general, Martin Dempsey - have voiced doubt over the degree to which they could damage the distant, dispersed and well-defended Iranian nuclear facilities.

In comments that may have been designed to hint at the feasibility of a secret solo strike, Netanyahu on Thursday praised the Israeli military during a meeting with its high command.

“From time to time, operations have been necessitated, and they were carried out with exemplary success,” he said. “Israel’s citizens should know what I know - that there is someone to depend on. There is someone who is ready for the job.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.