Netanyahu’s choices: Strike Iran before or after Israeli elections

DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis

Will Netanyahu face an election before Obama?

Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak are facing another of the periodic opposition campaigns to unseat them – this time by pressure for an early election a year before its October, 2013 date. New faces have joined the opposition lineup. They are focused on challenging the current government’s credentials for leading an Israeli attack to preempt a nuclear Iran. These two goals are interchangeable. However, before the campaign peaks, DEBKAfile’s analysts report it has begun to backfire.

The newcomer to the anti-government ranks is the party registered Sunday, April 29, by ex-broadcaster Yair Lapid as “Yesh Atid” (There is a Future). His potential partners are former Shin Bet director Yuval Diskin, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former chief of staff Gaby Ashkenazi. They are all casting about for a political base, together or apart, from which to tip over the current government. Incumbent President Shimon Peres cheers them on from the wings.

Diskin’s assault on Netanyahu and Barak as not to be trusted to lead a war and guided by “messianic” feelings was launched Friday, April 27, directly after Independence Day celebrations, at the same time as two leading opposition parties, Labor and Kadima, set the stage for an early election to stem the right-of-center government’s constant gains in opinion polls.

The ex-Shin Bet chief sounded the drum for them all by his assault on Netanyahu’s competence for leading any wars, least of all, a major conflict against Iran. Captions suddenly blossomed in foreign publications on the lines of “Israel’s Generals in Revolt,” implying that Israel’s security establishment was solidly against an attack on Iran.

This is far from the truth. The vocal opponents are a group of disaffected ex-security officials. There are questions about why they did not resign on the grounds of the views they are now voicing instead of fighting to have their tours of duty extended. Now they are casting out lines for careers in politics.

Ehud Olmert, one of the Yesh Atid founding fathers and a member of its inner leadership, set the new party’s security agenda in New York Sunday with this comment: “I think that fundamentally, Israelis believe that a nuclear Iran imperils their existence. That is not in dispute. Nor that we must do everything it takes to defend ourselves against this peril. The question is what should be done, who should do it and when. My answer is this: It is being done and continues to be done by the international community led by the United States.”

With this agenda, Olmert sought to place the question of an Israeli solo attack on Iran versus reliance on US President Barack Obama front and center of the election campaign to come.

He appeared to be drawing on Diskin’s words, that the Israeli public is “stupid” or “ignorant,” leading to his belief that the Israeli voter would swallow a straight black-and-white choice between the “good guys” and the “bad guys.’

The good guys would be Barak Obama and his advisers, who have worked so hard to hold Israel back from a military offensive against Iran, and the baddies are Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak who are making trouble for the US president.

On April 26, Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz tried to fracture this distorted picture: He reported that other armies stand alongside Israel ready to attack Iran and prevent its acquisition of a nuclear weapon.

He did not name those armies, but DEBKAfile’s military sources disclosed he was referring to the United States.

In their drive to discredit Netanyahu and Barak, President Peres, Olmert, Dagan, Diskin and Ashkenazi failed to take note of Gen. Gantz’s words or what they portended – namely: In the past week, the United States has brought forward its operational preparations for an attack on Iran.

Instead, in Jerusalem, Israel’s opposition parties gathered for the push to corner Netanyahu into announcing an early election.
They got their wish sooner than they expected.

The prime minister, after turning the situation over for 48 hours, assented. He figured that the key weapon adopted by his rivals to knock him over was not in fact in their hands but in his: It is up to him and him alone to decide whether to attack Iran. In fact, if an election was forced on his government, he could defeat their scheme by bringing the attack forward.

So the impression of Netanyahu and Barak fighting with their backs to the wall against a body of generals is totally misleading.

Their opponents are beginning to realize that their anti-government offensive has missed its mark and may well blow up in their faces. The pressure for an election may therefore dissipate in the coming days – or not. That too is up to Netanyahu. He may decide that a successful operation against Iran would assure him of an election victory and wipe out his rivals. For now, he’s got his foes guessing.

President Obama was far from happy with the exes’ anti-government maneuvers because he realized that they offered Prime Minister Netanyahu his strongest incentive yet for bringing forward an attack on Iran, an eventuality which the US president had made every effort to prevent before he himself faces the American voter in November.

April 30, 2012 | 11 Comments »

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11 Comments / 11 Comments

  1. Stanley,

    if you are wrong are you willing to stop posting?

    What is the purpose of such a prediction?

    Is it based on some insider information? A revelation from G-d? A wild guess? You had too much to drink? If you are right, to which of these reasons will you claim your rightness?

    And if you are wrong, how much of your reputation are you willing to put on the line for taking up the space on this page to write it?

    @ stanley:

  2. @ stanley:
    Hello, Stanley

    Israel didn’t strike anyone; the US didn’t strike anyone; the world didn’t end, and you didn’t get raptured. Now what? Iran will soon test a nuclear weapon, and there’s not a damned thing anyone will do about it. They will be followed in a few years by Saudi Arabia and Turkey. With any luck, they’ll use them on each other; but don’t hold your breath.

    Duck and cover, everyone.

  3. In my distinguished opinion, Israel and America will strike Iran some time in the next six (6) hours. Yes you read it correctly six (6). remember you read it here first.

  4. I clicked on the link and perused the thumbnail sketch of Rav Rontzki, whom I had not previously heard of. I solidly approve of him. His policies resemble those of the Rav Meir Kahane, who will be one of my heroes until the day I die. I wish him well in putting together a Zionist party merging National Union and Jewish Home.

    (Is a consolidation like that really feasible, Israeli politics being what they are? All the B-team candidates seem to want to be on the consolidated list, which is not always possible. It seems that like American politicians, they care more about getting elected than building a stronger political entity.)

    When my wife and I lived in Israel during 1973-1974, for purposes of pursuing our graduate fellowships, we observed real Judaism, or at least as we best understood it from the basis of our secular backgrounds. And we enjoyed the experience, because it seemed so real, compared with watered-down American Judaism. I don’t know about Tel Aviv, but in Jerusalem, there wasn’t much else to do on Shabat but observe it until the stars were visible. If I were young enough to live in Israel today and could serve in Zahal, that man would be my military Rav.

    Arnold Harris
    Mount Horeb WI

  5. @ yamit82:
    big sigh…
    i became ‘familiar’ with him and jewish leadership by stumbling onto his home page.
    having read his ’10 reasons why israel needs authentic jewish leadership’, and finding myself (secular jew) agreeing with all the premises i was reading, and trying to learn more, i was (and still am) pinning quite a bit of hope in his ‘potential leadership’.

    i am saddened that you are ‘leaning negative’…simply because, as of now, i am BEYOND disapointed with bibi (i guess i was taken by his oratorical skills. i think he has WAY overpromised and underdelivered…)
    and i hope that from what i read and heard by feiglin, it will not be a repeat performance a la bibi…

    being apreciative of your comments on this blog, i sought your opinion on this matter before, and was wondering now, why you were leaning negative. however i’ll respect your ‘avoiding answering the question’ and will not ask it again.

  6. @ yamit82:
    i read the bio of rabbi rontzki.
    not shabby at all!
    sounds to me that he calls’em as he sees’em.
    a common front of national ideology parties seems to me to be the saving card for israel, for as it is now, with a garden variety of libtards and traitors to the jewish nation it does not look good.
    what are your thoughts about moshe feiglin?

  7. What’s really behind BB’s threat of calling new elections.

    Netanyahu pretends he cannot pass the haredi enlistment

    The PM has promised to hold new elections if he cannot push a Tal Law alternative through the Knesset. Wait, Lieberman has said the same thing. Between them and the leftist members of the coalition, who would surely support anti-haredi legislation, Netanyahu has at least 70 votes in the Knesset. So there is no problem at all passing the new legislation.

    The problem is that Netanyahu is not sure that his own faction would vote against the haredim. Thus the threat of new elections targets his own MKs.

    Netanyahu’s choice now is to press the anti-haredim law and lose the haredi parties in his government—leaving it open to blackmail by Barak’s leftists—or call new elections, which would still leave the haredi parties holding the trump card to form the coalition. Effectively, there is no choice at all, but only postponement: Netanyahu has to reach compromise either with the haredi or the leftists.

    Most likely, the PM will settle for a watered-down version of the Tal Law.

    I tend to support Ronzki: Read his bio bottom line below.

    The Jewish Home and The National Union

    The Jewish Home party and the National Union party began preparing for the possibility of running in a joint list for the next elections during the term of the 18th Knesset. While negotiations were successful and the two parties reached consensus, nevertheless disagreements arose regarding the selection of candidates for the Knesset, as the “The Jewish Home” supported the idea of running ??open primaries while The National Union opposed it.

    Rabbi Avichai Rontzki is expected to lead a new religious Zionist party with the merger of Jewish Home and National Union.

  8. Forget the Israeli elections. Plenty of time for that later. Do the job on Iran before the US elections. That way, Israel would grease the political garbage chute for Barack Hussein Obama Jr. Which is exactly what we want for the USA. You do want him gone, don’t you?

    Arnold Harris
    Mount Horeb WI

  9. Diskin & Dagan are acting with no honor so of course they seek to be politicians. If the Israelis vote for these 2 clowns, responsible for the questionable regard the public has for the Mossad. And anyone who can vote for someone named “ash can nazi” is in itself telling.

    Amazing how many ex and former “insiders” are against a strong right wing Israeli stance; from Diskin to Michael Scheuer.

    Is there anything Bibi can do to rid Israel of Peres? Why must he be there? Appointed by a failure like Olmert? But why is the munchkin there?