Israelis See No Iran War This Year

By Reuters

Published September 28, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s U.N. speech about Iranian nuclear advances has dampened speculation in Israel that he could order a war this year.

Analysing Thursday’s address in which Netanyahu literally drew a “red line” on a cartoon bomb to show how close Iran was to building nuclear weaponry, commentators saw his deadline for any military action falling in early or mid-2013, well after U.S. elections in November and a possible snap Israeli poll.

“The ‘decisive year’ of 2012 will pass without decisiveness,” wrote Ofer Shelah of Maariv newspaper on Friday.

Without explicitly saying so, Netanyahu implied Israel would attack Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities if they were allowed to process potential weapons-grade material beyond his red line.

Maariv and another mass-circulation Israeli daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, said spring 2013 now looked like Netanyahu’s target date, given his prediction that by then Iran may have amassed enough 20 percent-enriched uranium for a first bomb, if purified further.

But the front pages of the liberal Haaretz and pro-government Israel Hayom newspapers cited mid-2013 - Netanyahu’s outside estimate for when the Iranians would be ready to embark on the last stage of building such a weapon, which could take only “a few months, possibly a few weeks”.

Iran, which denies it is seeking nuclear arms, said Netanyahu’s speech made “baseless and absurd allegations” and that the Islamic Republic “reserves its full right to retaliate with full force against any attack”. Israel is widely assumed to have the Middle East’s only atomic arsenal.

Israeli diplomats were reluctant to elaborate on Netanyahu’s speech, saying its main aim was to illustrate the threat from Tehran.

Asked on Israel’s Army Radio whether Netanyahu had signalled he would strike in the spring if U.S. and European Union sanctions fail to curb Iran’s nuclear work, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said: “No, no, I would not go that far.”

“The prime minister clarified a message to the international community (that) if they want to prevent the next war, they must prevent a nuclear Iran,” Lieberman added.

TRUCE WITH OBAMA

Netanyahu’s increasingly hawkish words on Iran in recent weeks and months strained relations with U.S. President Barack Obama, who has resisted the calls to set Tehran an ultimatum while fending off charges by his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, that he is soft on Israel’s security.

Netanyahu praised Obama’s resolve in his U.N. address, which the prime minister described as advancing their “common goal” - a strong signal that Israel would not blindside Washington with a unilateral attack on Iran.

Israel Hayom pundit Dan Margalit said the speech constituted “an almost explicit acknowledgment that he (Netanyahu) is declaring a truce in the public argument between him and the president. At least, until after the (U.S.) election.”

Netanyahu has political worries too, given deadlock in his coalition government over the 2013 budget which, if not ratified by December, could trigger an early Israeli election next year.

In a broadcast editorial, Army Radio depicted war with Iran as no longer an imminent dilemma troubling the prime minister.

Instead, the station said, Netanyahu would have to decide “whether he is going to elections sooner, in January, February, or maybe March, or whether he will be able to pass the budget, take care of the Iranian issue and then go to elections in October (2013) as scheduled.”

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said this month that Washington would have “about a year” to stop Iran should it decide to cross the threshold of producing nuclear weaponry - a more expansive timeline than that put forward by Israel.

That could spell fresh clashes between the allies over Tehran’s continued 20-percent uranium enrichment, a process the Iranians say they need for medical isotopes but that also brings the fissile material much closer to weapons grade.

An Israeli official briefed on the government’s Iran strategy cautioned against interpreting dates Netanyahu gave at the United Nations as deadlines, saying the preparations had already been made for military strikes.

“When he says Iran will have a bomb by this-or-that point in time, that in no way means the war option must wait until then,” the official told Reuters. “There are other considerations to the timing - operational and strategic.”


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!
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • 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."
  • 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.