Nine Likud MKs signed a petition backing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judgment in tackling Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Channel 2 News reported on Sunday.
“We wish to pledge full confidence in your judgment on the Iranian issue, confident as we are that whatever decision you will arrive at, it will be with a view for the vital interests of the state of Israel,” read the petition, reportedly initiated by MK Tzipi Hotovely.
“These days, when politicians and political forces carry out a campaign designed to discredit your judgment, we decided to show our unqualified support,” the legislators stated.
Netanyahu is widely reported to be considering an Israeli military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, despite overt opposition from the US and from many top Israeli political and security figures.
Aside from Hotovely, the signatories are: Zeev Elkin, Miri Regev, Gila Gamliel, Carmel Shama-HaCohen, Ofir Akunis, Leah Ness, Ayoub Kara and Yariv Levin.
Several Cabinet ministers reportedly declined to show public support for the initiative, fearing this would amount to “providing the enemy with information” regarding the balance of power inside the Cabinet.
Netanyahu on Sunday urged the international community to get tougher against Iran, saying that without a “clear red line,” Tehran will not halt its nuclear program.
The firm language from the prime minister reflected differences that have emerged between Israel and its allies, particularly the US, over how to deal with Iran.
Israel has warned that the Iranians are quickly approaching weapons capability and that the threat of force must be seriously considered. The US says sanctions and international diplomacy must be given more time to work.
Netanyahu, speaking to his Cabinet, said that a new report issued by the UN nuclear agency showing progress in the Iranian nuclear program bolstered his claim that international pressure is not working.
The MKs’ petition is the latest expression of the increasingly public debate over the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran. Last month some 100 officers in the reserves signed a letter to Netanyahu vowing to follow any lawful order given to them in the line of duty. A week before that more than 400 people, including a number of professors, signed a petition calling upon Israel Air Force pilots to refuse to obey if they are ordered to bomb Iran.