The US has recently warned Israel that an Israeli strike on Iran will likely cause Egypt and Jordan to annul their peace agreements with Israel and sever ties, according to a senior Israeli official quoted by the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth on Thursday.
“These days, Arab leaders don’t rule their people. Rather, the street rules its leaders,” the official was quoted as saying. “An Israeli strike is exactly what the Iranians need: the entire Arab and Muslim street will go out to demonstrate.”
The Israeli official reportedly linked between the anticipated Arab reaction to an Israeli strike and the current rage-fueled wave of anti-Western protests in the wake of the publication of a trailer for a new film, “Innocence of Muslims,” that denigrates Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
“What we’ve been seeing with the anti-Muhammad film is nothing but a preview for what’s going to happen if Israel attacks,” the official was quoted as saying.
The comments come after weeks of speculation about a possible Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Israel has argued that due to its security concerns and reluctance to “outsource” its security to another country — even the US — it cannot afford to let Iran reach a breakout point in its nuclear program, meaning the stage at which manufacturing an atomic weapon becomes merely a matter of time.
The US and Israel have recently become embroiled in a standoff after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama publicly said they would not set “red lines” for Iran’s nuclear program, beyond which military force would be deployed.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for such measures as a means of calming Israeli apprehensions and, he says, of reducing the likelihood of conflict by making it clearer to Iran that the US is prepared to use force.
On Wednesday, a senior Israeli official warned Iran to stop its “direct and blunt threats” against Israel, telling a 155-nation nuclear conference that Israel was ready to defend itself against any nation that menaces its existence. Still, nuclear chief Shaul Chorev avoided any suggestion that Israel was contemplating a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Alluding to Iranian statements questioning Israel’s right to exist, Chorev warned that Israel “does not remain indifferent in view of such direct and blunt threats.”
“Israel is competent to deter its enemies and to defend itself,” he told the meeting.
On Monday, Iran’s nuclear chief told the same IAEA conference in
Vienna that his country’s nuclear facilities could now survive enemy attack.