Rumors in the Israeli media predict a possible Israeli preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear program, and many question what the United States’ role should be if a strike occurs.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are working to convince Israel’s security council and Netanyahu’s cabinet to launch a strike on Iran’s nuclear program, according to Laura Rozen of The Envoy.
"Have the prime minister and defense minister settled on a decision, just between the two of them, to launch a military attack on the nuclear facilities in Iran?” asked columnist Yahum Barnea in the daily Yediot Ahronoth.
Netanyahu is not pleased with the rumors of a military strike, as the discussions were to remain secret within his cabinet. Netanyahu has ordered Sin Bet Chief Yoram Cohen to investigate the source of the media leaks.
The Kuwait al-Jarida newspaper claimed Meir Dagan, a former Mossad chief, and Yuval Diskin, a former Shin Bet chief, are responsible for the leaks in an attempt to sabotage the political plans of Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
The public may be willing to support a strike. According to a poll published Thursday by the Dialog research center, 41 percent of those questioned would back Israel in a military strike of Iran’s nuclear weapons.
On Wednesday, Israel successfully tested a long-range missile that many believe could carry a nuclear warhead to Iran.
Many question if Israel’s interest in Iran’s nuclear supply is intensified by Palestine’s recently rewarded membership of UNESCO, a United Nations agency. Such a membership gives Israel’s age-old rival a stable footing in international affairs, and therefore many wonder if Israel is throwing itself into various international affairs to maintain the upper hand.
Although Palestine’s UNESCO membership could have heightened Israel’s radar, Israel’s tense perspective on Iran’s nuclear armament is a long-standing issue. After Netanyahu was elected as Prime Minister in 2009, one of his defense advisers offered background concerning foreign policy with Iran to news outlets.
“We have to make sure our friends in Washington know that we can't wait forever. There will come a point soon when it will be too late to do anything about this program. We're going carefully, but if we have to act, we will act, even if America won't,” said the adviser to reporter Jeffrey Goldberg.
“Bad things tend to get worse if they're not challenged early. Iranian leaders talk about Israel's destruction or disappearance while simultaneously creating weapons to ensure its disappearance,” contended Netanyahu.
A preemptive strike would come at an inconvenient time for the U.S., which is currently in the process of drawing troops out of Iraq and attempting to minimize its presence in the Middle East.
President Obama announced Oct. 21 that by January 2012, all U.S. troops would be removed from Iraq, adding that Iraqis will now be responsible for their own security. However, the U.S. plans to maintain amicable ties with the Middle Eastern country after the troops are removed.
As Israeli media disputes, Israel’s potential attack on Iran could unwillingly throw the U.S. back into the mix of Middle Eastern affairs from which it is trying to sever.