The Israeli army is making a series of high-level appointments, including naming a new operations chief, after previously delaying the top-level reshuffle amid talk of a possible Israeli military strike on Iran.
News of the fresh appointments, released on Tuesday, was interpreted by military commentators as an indication that the likelihood of an imminent Israeli military strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities had receded. “You don’t appoint a brand new operations chief when you’re about to go to war,” said Alon Ben-David, military analyst at Israel’s Channel 10 News.
The new IDF (Israel Defense Forces) operations division chief was named as Maj.-Gen. Yoav Har-Even. He is set to take up his position on Thursday, replacing Maj.-Gen. Yaakov Ayash, who’s set to become Israel’s military attache in Washington.
The IDF is also naming a new head of its Ramon Air Force Base and a new air defense chief, with their appointments set to take effect next month.
The new appointments followed several other intimations that Israel may be pulling back from the idea of a strike at Iran ahead of November’s US presidential elections. On Monday, The New York Times reported that President Barack Obama might set out certain “red lines” for tackling the Iranian nuclear threat — a report immediately seized upon positively by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He said Monday that the clearer “the international resolve” to thwart iran, the less likely a need to resort to military action.
On Tuesday, Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman praised the US as Israel’s only steadfast ally.
Also Tuesday, the former director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Eitan Bentsur, dismissed as “absolutely inconceivable” the idea that the US might have sent messages to Iran to clarify that it wanted no part of any Israeli military strike on Iranian facilities and that therefore Iran should not respond by hitting US targets. The Obama administration also denied the report, which appeared in an Israeli daily on Monday.
The same newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, claimed last Friday that Netanyahu and US Ambasasdor Dan Shapiro had a bust-up a few days earlier over Obama’s policy on Iran. That report, too, was denied by the US, with Shapiro calling it a “very silly story.”
The Israeli news reports came after the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said last Thursday that he did not want to be “complicit” in any Israeli attack on Iran — an utterance much remarked upon by Israeli commentators for its criminal connotations.
Netanyahu had intimated a readiness to strike at Iran, despite objections from the US and numerous key Israeli security figures and politicians. Bentsur, speaking on Army Radio, said he now thought the tension between the US and Israel over the issue was subsiding, and that good sense would ultimately prevail.