Defense Minister Ehud Barak continued to address speculation of a possible military attack against Iran on Thursday during the Knesset plenum, and explained why a nuclear-armed Iran was ‘incomparably’ more dangerous than a pre-emptive strike.
Speaking at the swearing in of Avi Dichter as Israel’s new Home Front Defence Minister, Barak said that “In all the wars and peace-making (efforts) in Israel’s history, there is no issue that has been dealt with as deeply as the issue of Iran.” He added, “Dealing with Iran is not risk-free but in fact there are outcomes that we can’t predict.”
Barak dismissed statements in opposition to an attack on Iran by figures outside the government, saying the government could and would make the decision on its own. “The prime minister, defence minister and foreign minister have the authority. There is an octet of ministers, there’s a cabinet, and the decision will be made as necessary by the government of Israel. That’s how it is and how it needs to be — not a group of civilians or even newspaper editorials … that’s not to say there isn’t disagreement, but the issue is being debated,” Barak said.
Barak also urged immediate action to halt Iran’s nuclear weapons programme, but noted “there are dangers in the situation today. It’s not simple. There’s no shortage of dangers, no shortage of unforeseeable outcomes to dealing with Iran today.”
The government on Wednesday unanimously approved former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter’s appointment as home front defense minister, a day after the Kadima MK resigned from the Knesset in order to join the government.
With his appointment on Thursday, Dichter joins the inner security cabinet, consisting of Netanyahu, Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Vice Prime Minister Dan Meridor, and Minister-without-Portfolio Benny Begin.
The octet was reportedly split between those in favour of a strike on Iran (Netanyahu, Barak, Liberman, and Ya’alon) and those against (Steinitz, Yishai, Meridor, and Begin). Dichter’s inclusion could provide the tie-breaking vote should the issue arise.
Dichter will replace current Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, who is set to take over as Israel’s ambassador to China.