Israel’s Public Debate on Iran
Israel’s Public Debate on Iran
by Sarah Ann Haves
During the past several weeks there have been clear signs that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his government, the opposition, and his allies are grappling over a preliminary strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Even within Netanyahu’s inner cabinet it has been reported that there are serious disagreements among members regarding what to do about Iran.
Much of the debate between current and former Israeli officials has been public; and, strong differences of opinions have been reported in interviews conducted by the Israeli media. Journalists continue to reveal the divisiveness among leaders regarding whether to strike now; wait for another round of diplomacy; or, let the U.S. take the lead on future military action against Iran.
Many Israelis claim that, as a sovereign nation, Israel should be able to act independently. Others say that Washington should be notified when Jerusalem leaders make a decision on Iran. A majority of Israelis are counting on the U.S. for major support as they do not want Israeli Defense Forces (the IDF) to act alone.
|Obama’s promise that
America has Israel’s back has not convinced a skeptical Israeli population
U.S. President Barack Obama’s promise that America has Israel’s back has not convinced a skeptical Israeli population. Middle East analysts in Israel and abroad have challenged the U.S. president to present a clear cut plan as to when American diplomacy with Iran ends and military preparations begin.
Publicly, the comments coming from the Obama Administration have not put Israelis at ease. This has become a sore point which has brought the debate to a fevered pitch.
Despite differences between the U.S. and Israel on a diplomatic level, there has been unprecedented strategic defense cooperation in recent years. In lieu of this, a media report published August 22, 2012 suggests that the Obama Administration is beginning to take some initiative towards military preparedness. The Seattle Times article claims that U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta ordered the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier to deploy back to the Middle East about four months earlier than planned. Panetta stressed that the early deployment will deal with the current threats in the region including Iran and the continued chaos in Syria. He said the U.S. wants to be prepared with any contingency that develops in the region. This seemingly minor action seems to indicate that the Pentagon has started to listen to Israel’s concern on some level.
In the meantime, what can be expected if Israel decides to conduct a pre-emptive military strike against Iran? Hezbollah currently has at least 60,000 missiles in its weapons arsenal, and the IDF is prepared if the Lebanese terrorist militia begins firing them at the Israeli home front. If Iran also gives orders to Gaza terror groups, then Islamic Jihad or Hamas is expected to launch a missile attack on Israel. The Jewish State has already warned that parts of Lebanon and Gaza may be destroyed in order for Israel to protect its home front. On a global level, if there is a major confrontation, Israelis and Jews traveling abroad may come under fire from terrorists who sympathize with Iran.
Israel has been training its pilots for many years but the question is what Middle East country will allow the Israeli Air Force (IAF) to fly over its airspace to Iran? The northern route would put the IAF over a portion of Turkey and Syria. Israel’s diplomatic relations with Turkey have diminished, considerably, and it is unlikely that Turkey or Syria (an enemy of Israel) would allow any IAF flyovers. The southern route to Iran would take Israeli pilots over Saudi Arabia airspace. While this is feasible, it means that IAF jets would need to refuel in the Saudi desert. The central route would take Israel over Jordan and Iraq, which would be the shortest route, but the most diplomatically problematic to get permission for flyovers.
In the midst of talk about a possible war with Iran, there are Israeli home front preparations taking place in the north of the country. Reports indicate that some northern citizens are already making plans to flee the country for fear of a major war coming soon.
While much of the international community is focused on a possible Israeli pre-emptive strike against Iran, the Jewish State is preparing for a future conflict with Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah. Recently, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened Israel when he claimed that he is preparing to send troops into the Galilee. He also maintained that if Israel strikes Iran, Hezbollah will join Iran in a counterstrike against Israel.
There’s a high probability that Iranian leaders will direct Hezbollah to provoke a conflict with Israel in order to try and stop the IDF from attacking Iran.
The IDF is also monitoring the civil war in Syria. Syria is Iran’s ally and Iran’s mullahs are determined to make sure that Syrian President Bashar Assad stays in power. If Syria’s Sunni majority is able to take over the Assad regime, the axis of power that Shiite Iran has developed in the region (Syria-Lebanon-Iraq) will be weakened considerably. Assad’s rule in Syria also guarantees the survival of Iranian-backed Hezbollah.
Hezbollah not only controls southern Lebanon, it has substantial influence within the Lebanese Armed Forces, and is a major political player in the Lebanese government. If Syria collapses, Assad’s minority Alawite forces may find refuge in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. This would result in expanding the Shiite stronghold there which would be protected by Hezbollah. It would reenergize Hezbollah’s guerilla war against Israel.
Recognizing that the U.S. could lose friends in the Middle East by leading a coalition against Iran, the Obama Administration has been counting the cost of getting involved. Reportedly, the Iranian Quds Force has been behind recent terror attacks against Western targets in the Middle East. More attacks can be expected if the White House chooses to clearly define and prepare for military action against Iran.
It is well known that Hezbollah has “sleeper cells” in the United States that could be mobilized should America lead a war against Iran. Recently, Iran showed off its military capabilities, including a new line of short-range missiles that could hit U.S. troops in the Gulf region. The missiles could also be used against ships in the Straits of Hormuz to paralyze the oil industry.
With the American presidential elections coming up in November, it seems that Obama is treading carefully when it comes to saber rattling vis-à-vis Iran.
Obama and Netanyahu seem to agree that containing Iran is not only about stopping its nuclear aggression, but also about weakening its terror alliances. Lately, there has been great Iranian investment in plots to assassinate Israelis in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Iran’s Middle East terror groups continue to speak of eradicating the Jewish State and bringing the West to its knees. The weakening of Iran’s power and resolve is a high priority in Israel and the U.S.
to look for…a
Netanyahu also agrees with Obama on the need to continue strong international sanctions against Iran in order to force it to comply with U.N. resolutions. But, recent comments by American Vice President Joe Biden, boasting of accomplishments in the U.S.-Israel relationship to strengthen and care for Israel’s well-being in the midst of regional terror threats, have not been comforting to Israelis. Claiming record levels of security assistance to Israel; the biggest joint military exercises ever between the two countries; high-level intelligence exchanges between the two allies; and bi-weekly discussions between top generals from both nations has still not been what Israeli leaders hoped to hear in the public forum.
What Netanyahu continues to look for is public assurances from the White House of a credible U.S. military threat that will cause Iran to stop its work on nuclear weapons. This may not come to fruition any time soon.
For Israel, every hesitation and indecisive act by the United States, which causes it to refrain from warning leaders in Tehran, brings Israel one step closer to taking independent decisive military action against Iran in order to stop its nuclear quest.
“Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.” Psalm 144:1
Ms. Haves is a news analyst, reporting on political, diplomatic, military and spiritual issues in Israel and the nations.
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Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.