US officials fear the unity government established earlier this week signals an impending Israeli attack on Iran, Channel 10 News reported Thursday evening.
According to the report, officials are holding marathon talks in Washington out of concern that an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear program may take place before the US presidential elections in November.
Undisclosed Washington sources told Channel 10 that they worry Kadima was offered a place in the coalition to shore up support for a preemptive attack aimed at halting the Islamic Republic’s nuclear drive, and that Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz would approve of such an attack.
The report added that the US officials believe early Israeli elections would have kept the F-15s at bay, but are now genuinely concerned that with political backing, there is little to stop Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from ordering the attack.
In a joint press conference held Tuesday, Netanyahu and Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz said they saw eye-to eye on a slew of issues, including Iran. In the past Mofaz has been a vocal critic of the notion of Israel striking Iran’s nuclear sites on its own, but Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are both believed to favor an early strike.
Having gone to sleep with expectations of September elections, Israelis woke up to a new political reality Tuesday morning, learning that overnight, Netanyahu and Mofaz signed a deal to form a unity government.
Legislation to dissolve parliament was frozen after it had been approved on a first reading. The Netanyahu-Mofaz deal provides for this Knesset to see out its term, until October 2013.
Shortly after 2:30 a.m., Netanyahu and Mofaz arrived at the Knesset to brief their parties on the details of their secret agreement. Kadima joined the government in exchange for Mofaz’s appointment as a deputy prime minister, a minister without portfolio, and a cabinet member. No other Kadima members will join the cabinet. The new coalition is one of the largest in Israel’s history, numbering 94 MKs.