Israel - huge pressure not to attack Iran

2012-02-20 22:23

Jerusalem - Israel is coming under increased pressure from Washington and Europe to hold off from attacking Iran over its disputed nuclear drive and allow time for a regime of tight international sanctions to kick in.

Pressure is being exerted from all directions, officials acknowledge, with Washington's concern over a pre-emptive Israeli strike reflected in the steady stream of senior officials arriving in Jerusalem for top-level talks.

The latest visitor was US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, who on Sunday held a two-hour meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and held similar in-depth talks with Defence Minister Ehud Barak, whose "hawkish line" on Iran is worrying Washington, Haaretz newspaper reported on Monday.

Later this week, US intelligence chief James Clapper is also due to arrive, press reports said.

Barak, Netanyahu's de facto deputy, has been "summoned" to Washington next week, media reports said, ahead of a visit by the premier himself in early March.

"Israel is under pressure from all sides. The Americans don't want to be surprised and faced with a fait accompli of an Israeli attack," a senior Israeli official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"They are telling us to be patient and see if the international sanctions against Tehran will eventually work," he said.

In an interview with CNN this weekend, top US military commander Martin Dempsey gave a blunt assessment that it would be "premature" to launch military action against Iran.

For several weeks, Israel has blown hot and cold over the possibility of a pre-emptive military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, which much of the West believes masks a weapons drive.

Warlike tendencies

"For now, we are trying to nurture a certain vagueness, partly to push the international community to impose even tougher sanctions against Iran," he said.

"But at the same time, we are dealing with the usual polyphony from Israel's political class," he acknowledged.

The United States is not alone in wanting to curb the warlike tendencies apparent in some Israeli circles.

On Sunday, Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague said it would not be "wise" for Israel to take military action against Iran, echoing comments earlier this month by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"The solution is never military, the solution is political, the solution is diplomatic, the solution lies in sanctions," he told French Jewish leaders on February 8.

Even back home, Netanyahu is coming under pressure, with opposition leader Tzipi Livni accusing him of pursuing policies which isolate Israel.

"The prime minister's policies have brought about a situation in which the world is calling on us through loudspeakers to do this or not to do that," she told public radio on Monday.

"The whole world is running after us to stop us," she said.

Such policies, she charged, had meant Israel was "doubly isolated" - over the Iranian issue and over the stalled peace process with the Palestinians.

Conflict of interest

In an editorial entitled An American Warning, the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper urged the government to heed the warnings from Washington.

"Fear of Iran's nuclear programme is pushing Israel into a dangerous corner," it said.

"The state could find itself in a conflict of interest, or even on a collision course with the American administration just when it needs US support more than ever before."

Israel, it argued, "must listen to the warnings coming out of Washington and refrain, for now, from unilateral measures".

In 1981, Israel launched a pre-emptive strike on the unfinished Osirak reactor outside Baghdad, leaving US officials stunned and earning it a sharp rebuke from its American ally.

Meanwhile, Iran on Monday deployed warplanes and missiles in an "exercise" to protect its nuclear sites and warned it may cut oil exports to more European Union nations unless sanctions were lifted.

The moves were announced the same day as officials from the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, arrived in Tehran for a second round of talks focused on "the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear programme".

Iran has repeatedly said it will not give up its nuclear ambitions, which it insists are purely peaceful.

  • Marcell - 2012-02-20 23:37

    It is always easier to apologise afterwards. The pumpkin is going to hit the fan sooner than later.

  • Fred - 2012-02-20 23:42

    Israel absolutely must hold back. Sanctions are working. And once Assad is gone, the Iranian people are likely to rise up too. The pressure will be squarely on the crazy Ahmadinejad and chauvinistic Ayahtollas.

      Fred - 2012-02-21 01:57

      Hi Diaan. I think there is a third alternative: the Iranian people free themselves from the oppression of these mostly dark oriented Iranian clerics and politicians, and create a truer representation of who they are as a people. After Assad.

      Sterling - 2012-02-21 07:24

      Israel is not strong enough to attack Iran and in a ground war Israel would suffer the same fate that Germany suffered at Stalingrad. In this world of technology transfer one can never underestimate one enemy. The media is trying to portray Israel as a supper power and a long war would break this little country.

      Fred - 2012-02-21 08:21

      You have no idea what you're up against. This is a country of people who faced extermination. If it came to war, which I doubt, it would be short. And the outcome would not be in favor of the Iranian regime. Patrick, you're consistently wrong. The despotic regimes of the Middle East, which are fast disappearing, are and always have been the aggressors. Soon this discussion will not be needed because they won't be there anymore, by their own deception, greed and folly.

      Merven - 2012-02-21 08:25

      'Israel is not strong enough to attack Iran' I don't know about that statement: Also they've got the USA and Britain's backing. When the paw paw hits the fan they'll get the support they need.

  • Fidel - 2012-02-21 01:25

    What makes Israel conclude that they could win a confrontation with Iran. And thousands of Hamas and Hizbollah rockets will once and for all show that Israel, rather than a refuge for the Jews, is a giant bull's eye. The only reason there is so much chatter and no action is because everyone is too impotent to do anything to stop Iran.

      Fred - 2012-02-21 01:54

      A refuge for the Jews? What does this mean? Fidel, it's important to differentiate between the regimes of these countries, and the people. The freer world doesn't have a beef with the Iranian people; it has a beef with the rogue Iranian regime. Once Assad is gone, the Iranian people will move to free themselves.

      Marcell - 2012-02-21 01:59

      Infidel: The name says it all : Israel It is not a question of 'if' but rather a question of 'when'. Israel will act when the time is right. Please do us a favour and go to Iran.

      Fidel - 2012-02-21 02:18

      And you marcel can go to Israel.

      Fred - 2012-02-21 02:58

      Fidel, what do you mean a refuge for the jews, and why would you want it to be a giant bulls eye?

      Dirk - 2012-02-21 06:19

      Israel cannot trust or depend on the West for its security. They have proven themselves to act only in self-interest which does not correspond with the interests of Israel. God bless Israel.

      Merven - 2012-02-21 08:26

      'Israel cannot trust or depend on the West for its security.' History is not one of your strong points is it?

      Fred - 2012-02-21 09:08

      Patrick, Israel will not heistate to protect itself, and it has the means to do so. As for your contention that it is the aggressor, not the illegitimate, despotic, chauvinistic, tyrannical regimes of the Middle East that have been threatening her existence for ever, you are plain wrong. These regimes are disappearing fast, thankfully, reflecting your faulty thinking.

      customdesign - 2012-02-21 10:16 - and they are way more capable now with more sophisticated weaponry and a more experienced army than then. Read up a bit on Israels nuclear capabilities and their war record- they can wipe out the whole middle east if they chose to do so, but they have not. Instead I think under the circumstances they have been very patient. The west is under the same delusional apathy as pre WW2. Iran is run by madmen and there is no way their intentions are peaceful.

      BA - 2012-02-21 11:35

      PAtrick - unprovoked aggression? Ignorance and slander. Name one act of unprovoked aggression. Just one. You complete idiot.

      BA - 2012-02-21 15:36

      Prick - I mean Patrick: answer the question. It's always the same with you and that pathetic little coward Fidel - you make slanderous,false statements, and then you avoid the questions and the hard facts. Typical. You and Fidel disgust me.

      BA - 2012-02-21 17:02

      The question, imbecile, is what single act of "unprovoked aggression" has Israel carried out?

      Fred - 2012-02-21 22:00

      More of Patrick's lies and delusions. Everybody with a clear mind has heard the Iranian regime threaten tot wipe Israel off the face of the Earth again and again, and deny the existence of the Holocaust. For no reason. Yeah right.

      Fred - 2012-02-22 21:18

      Patrick, you're overlooking the suicide attacks, car bombs and missiles raining in at Israel, funded by the Syrian and Iranian regimes (the other despotic Middle Eastern dictators who were doing this are gone now) to hold onto power and distract their populations. Open your eyes and see the whole, truer picture.

  • Garth - 2012-02-21 07:30

    A very strange comment from someone who would prefer for us to believe that she(?) is knowledgeable and well-read: '. . . because everyone is too impotent to do anything to stop Iran.' Fido, either you do not know the meaning of the word impotent, or you believe Ahmadinejad's propaganda. If it came down to it: Iran and Israel are fairly evenly matched in most departments of war, with the exception of Nuclear armaments, Airforce, Tanks. Iran has a larger Navy(fishing boats armed with missiles) and more cannon-fodder, I mean ground troops. And, your beloved Iran, is surrounded by Sunni's who are tired of their Shiite. Much as you, Fido, try to push your point that the hated `white' west is imperialistic and warmongering, here it is your beloved brown men doing the pushing. Iran has been asked to back off and step down; they have refused. Israel, in order to survive, cannot step back one millimetre. They must stand firm but hopefully they do not cross the line. War benefits no one. @Diaan - do you hate Israel and her people so much that you would `. . . REALY looking forward towards,' their involvement in another war?

      Fidel - 2012-02-21 09:54

      Those Sunnis are even more tired of Israel. Don't mistake the animosity shown to Iran by the decadent gulf leaders as represantative of their populace. Fortunately for Israel they don't have to rely on your political assesment for their strategic planning. Arabs in a recent Brookings poll rank the major threats to the region as Israel (88 percent), the United States (77 percent) and Iran (10 percent).

      Fred - 2012-02-21 23:10

      Fidel, again, what did you mean that Israel is a refuge for the Jews and it is one big bull's eye? Regarding your post above, you've allowed yourself to be deceived by the despotic, self-serving, tyrannical regimes of the Middle East, Sunni and Shiite, who have held their populations hostage and tricked them into believing the Palestinians are the victims of Israel's aggression, all the while enriching themselves. Thankfully these regimes are dying fast. The clouds of deception will lift for most, not everyone because some will still prefer to be blind, and greater peace and freedom will be created in the region.

  • Iekraam - 2012-02-21 08:06

    We are all sick and tired of war. When will the world punish those who seek to start wars?

      Fred - 2012-02-21 08:22

      How? By invading them? :)

      Fred - 2012-02-21 08:23

      Just a joke. I do agree with you. War is failure.

      Fidel - 2012-02-21 09:06

      War is business and employment in the western capitalist model.

      Fred - 2012-02-21 09:12

      And a means of production in the fast-fading Middle East despotic regimes, distinct from the Middle Eastern people.

  • Jerzy - 2012-02-21 08:27

    Dirk, Israel has to listen because the US sponsors them to the tune of $3 billion militarily and who knows how much more under the table. Israel cannot survive without the US finance, as most people including europeans and US academic institutions boycott Israel. Mubarak was allowed to oppress his people for 3 decades with the blessing of the US, as long as he sold gas at cost to Israel and maintained the peace by blocking the access to the Gaza strip. The same will happen to Jordan as well as most Jordanians are under pressure from the millions of Palestinian refugees who were forcefully removed from their land. We can also see that ties between turkey and Israel are strained after the attack of Turkish civilians aboard the Mavi Marmara in international waters. Hence, US is willing to "tolerate" any dictatorship as long as they accept and make peace with Israel. By the way, how about God bless the entire world and not just Israel.

      Fred - 2012-02-21 08:37

      What do you suggest should have been done to protect Israel, in a region which thronged with illegitimate despots and tyrannical regimes that wanted to destroy it and the Jewish people, who had lost close on six million people in the second world war?

      BA - 2012-02-21 08:53

      Jerzy. Lies and false statements. If there is any country that cannot surivive without external aid, it is the palestinian territory. And you think I suppose that the USA controlled the minds of the entire egyptian population by some kind of mysterious control. The same way they control your mind huh? what I mean, idiot, is that the egyptians are and were in control of their own destiny, and the USA had nothing to do with mubarak being in control. What mubarak didn't do is threaten American interests and try to exert control over the whole middle east region, like iran is doing. The palestinians left their land voluntarily due to a war started by all the arab countries surrounding Israel. And they are refugees no more, but your point is well made that the palestinians are treated worse in lebanon and jordan than anywhere else, but no-one seems to mind that. Finally, I think perhaps you should include "militant islamist fanatics" in your description of the turks aboard the mavi mara. Finally, and most importantly, your statement about most people including "europeans" and US academic institutions boycotting Israel is just utter ignorant rubbish of the worst kind.

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