This week has seen the public debate surrounding the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities intensify. Last week Haaretz reported that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak are poised to strike Iran. Earlier this week, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, noted that Israel had not decided on its course yet and that the country was unable to destroy Iran’s entire nuclear infrastructure by itself. In a likely response to the Pentagon’s press briefing, in an interview with Bloomberg Israel’s ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, said that setting back Iran’s nuclear programme by two years was better than inaction.
Those who oppose an Israeli unilateral strike in the near future have also spoke out recently. In what is understood to be an unusual step, Israel’s President Shimon Peres on Thursday warned against an early Israeli attack. From the political echelons, Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz criticised Netanyahu in the Knesset yesterday for attempting to scare the public and added that an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be “dangerous and irresponsible”.
In an interview to Haaretz published today, former IDF intelligence chief Uri Sagi speaks for the first time about the risk of a premature Israeli strike on Iran. Former IDF Chief of Staff Amnon Lipkin Shahak on Monday joined the chorus of voices opposing an Israeli strike on Iran, saying that Israel must not rush to act. Lipkin dismissed talk that Israel must attack Iran’s nuclear facilities by the fall, saying that the option would still be on the table after presidential election in the United States.
Israel’s Former Military Intelligence, Amos Yadlin said yesterday that before Israel considers striking Iran’s nuclear facilities, it must exhaust all other alternatives – namely, the diplomatic route to stop Tehran from developing an nuclear weapon. In an essay titled “A Conceptual Framework and Decision Making Model for Israel about Iran,” Yadlin, who now heads the Institute for National Security Studies, notes that substantive sanctions must be employed in an effort to coerce Tehran into a ”good agreement.” Such a deal would force Iran to get rid of most of its enriched uranium, stop operations at the Fordo plant and allow for in-depth inspections of its facilities.