Israel Political Brief March 16, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Makes the Case for Going It Alone Against Iran



Netanyahu Makes the Case for Going It Alone Against Iran

By his own account, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to Washington this month with two goals.

Source: Time, 3-15-12

Lior Mizrahi / Getty Images

Lior Mizrahi / Getty Images
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a director-generals conference March 13, 2012 in Jerusalem, Israel.

By his own account, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to Washington this month with two goals. One was to continue his 15-year campaign to push Iran’s nuclear program to the top of the world’s agenda. That mission was accomplished, Netanyahu declared to the Knesset on Wednesday. The other aim was to hear Washington acknowledge that Israel has the right to launch a military operation on its own against Iran if it sees fit. “This position was positively received in the United States, I would even say in the most profound way,” he said.

With that, the Israeli Premier launched an extended argument for defying American requests for restraint and going ahead with a strike on Iran. He cited as precedent the bold calls of three of his predecessors: David Ben-Gurion’s decision to announce independence in 1948 despite the U.S. Secretary of State’s advice to wait; Levi Eshkol’s decision to launch the 1967 Six-Day War despite President Lyndon Johnson’s warning; and Menachem Begin’s 1981 decision to strike Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor at Osirak (though Ronald Reagan appeared mostly amused when he heard about that strike, famously remarking, “Boys will be boys!”).

(MORE: Diplomacy With Iran: Hey, What’s the Hurry?)

“I presented the example I just gave you to my hosts in Washington,” Netanyahu reported, “and I believe that the first goal I set — to strengthen the recognition of Israel’s right to defend itself — I think that goal was achieved.”

Never mind that, by the end of the speech, Netanyahu sounded as though the target of an Israeli attack would be the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian enclave from which militants launched more than 200 missiles over the previous week, many of them supplied by Iran. “Gaza equals Iran,” he said, concluding the speech with the warning: “Sooner or later, Iran’s terror base in Gaza will be uprooted.” Analysts came away from the session convinced that the first target remains Tehran and debated whether he was indeed serious about going it alone or merely giving the appearance in order to keep international pressure on Iran….READ MORE

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