Israel will not attack Iran this year, provided that President Barack Obama sets out his “red lines” and offers certain other promised assurances to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a meeting between the two tentatively scheduled for Thursday, September 27, Israeli TV reported Thursday.
Citing sources “very close” to Netanyahu, Israel’s Channel 10 News said an Israeli attack on Iran is becoming “less and less likely.”
The station reported that the two leaders will meet the day after the Jewish High Holiday of Yom Kippur (which falls on September 26), when Netanyahu will be in New York to address the UN General Assembly.
“If Obama gives Israel the promised ‘red lines’ and his personal commitments, Israel will not attack Iran,” the report detailed.
On Monday, after the New York Times reported that the administration was considering setting out certain red lines that, if crossed by Iran in its nuclear drive, would trigger a resort to military force, Netanyahu welcomed the idea. “The greater the resolve and the clearer the red line, the less likely we’ll have conflict,” he said.
US efforts to dissuade Israel from a resort to force appeared to be continuing Thursday, with a visit by Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr., the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Winnefeld met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Tel Aviv, having arrived in Israel earlier in the week for talks focused on Iran and other defense issues, on a trip that was initially kept secret.
After their talks, Barak said the US and Israel “face the same challenge [on Iran] but the clocks are ticking at different paces.” He said “Israel reserves the right to make sovereign decisions. The US respects this. Israel and Israel alone will take the decisions that affect its future and its security.”
Winnefeld visited an Iron Dome anti-missile battery near Ashkelon Wednesday and, as a guest of IDF Deputy Chief of the General Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh. He also took part in security meetings that addressed “the cooperation between the two armies,” Army Radio said Thursday.
Also Thursday, former MK and minister Tzachi Hanegbi, who in July left the Kadima party to re-join Likud, said in an interview with Makor Rishon that Israel is now “in the most fateful 50 days in Israeli history since the Yom Kippur War.”
Hanegbi, who used to head the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said that every decision that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must make will come at a price. “The practical result of accepting a nuclear Iranian will be a nuclear arms race throughout the entire Middle East,” Hanegbi warned.
Last Thursday, General Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said rather scathingly that Israel had the power to “clearly delay but probably not destroy Iran’s nuclear program.”
He also warned about the counter-productive consequences of such a strike, and took the highly unusual step of adding, “I don’t want to be complicit if they choose to do it.”