Israel under huge pressure to avoid Iran attack (AFP) AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE) By Jean-Luc Renaudie 02/20/12)
AFP} Agence France Presse
AFP} Agence France Presse Articles-Index-Top
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
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 on March 5.
"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.
"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
"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
"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
In an editorial entitled "An American Warning," the left-leaning
Haaretz newspaper urged the government to heed the warnings from
"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
Iran has repeatedly said it will not give up its nuclear ambitions,
which it insists are purely peaceful. (Copyright © 2012 Agence France
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY