Israeli media, politicians and analysts have been discussing for a week the possibility of a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, but the country and its allies are far from a unified stance.
“Iran is the greatest danger, both for Israel and for the entire world,” Peres told a meeting of Druze leaders in a village in northern Israel on Sunday.
President Peres says Iran is the greatest threat for Israel and the worldHis comments came after a weekend of appearances by Israeli leaders on domestic and international media outlets, as they campaigned for increasing international pressure on Tehran to halt its nuclear program.
“The Iranians are determined to turn into a military nuclear power,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak told CNN. “They are ready to deceive, to defy and to deter the rest of the world from doing something about it.”
Barak also told the BBC that “paralyzing” sanctions could force Iran to abandon its nuclear program, but that “no option should be removed from the table.”
Warnings against unilateral action
Peres also said Israel must build an international consensus on Iran, and that Israel could not take unilateral action. Nearly all the former intelligence chiefs in Israel stressed this point, with former Mossad chief Meir Dagan several months ago calling a military strike against Iranian nuclear centers the “stupid” and something that would risk starting a region-wide war.
Amiram Levin, ex-general and deputy intelligence chief from 1998 to 2000, told Israeli radio that Israel “must have an interest in preserving the balance of power in the Middle East.”
Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes“We are a tiny drop in this enormous Arab and Muslim sea, and we have no reason to destroy the balance of power and create an escalation that will last for many years,” he said, adding that Israel was “too small and in the wrong region” to play the role of world police.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe echoed those concerns, telling Europe 1 radio on Sunday that “everything must be done to avoid the irreversible.”
“We will continue on this path [of sanctions] because a military intervention could create a situation that completely destabilizes the region,” he said.
Speculation is growing that Israel may be planning a preemptive strike against Iran. The Haaretz newspaper reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has support from Defense Minister Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liebermann for such a strike.
Barak was in London over the weekend, which Israeli media interpreted as evidence of the government’s desire to build international support for military action against Iran. The daily Guardian newspaper reported that the British military was already preparing for an attack.
Ahmadinejad says Iran will fight back against any attackMeanwhile Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the Egyptian state-owned newspaper Al-Akhbar accused Israel and the United States of building international support for a military strike, and that “the arrogant should know that Iran will not allow them to take any action against it.”
The International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to release a report on Iran’s nuclear program later this week. Previous reports have focused on Iran’s uranium enrichment program, which it says are solely for civilian purposes. The latest report is to focus on allegations that Iran plans to use the material to build a nuclear warhead.
Author: Bettina Marx, Tel Aviv / acb
Editor: Nancy Isenson