There is no reason for Israel to unleash a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities at this time, the former chief of the General Staff, Gabi Ashkenzai, said in a lecture on Thursday.
An Iranian nuclear weapon is still in the future, and the time has therefore not yet come for an Israeli resort to military intervention, said Ashkenazi, who was chief of staff from 2007 until February 2011.
“This threat that emerges in the east, and all the darkening on that horizon – we aren’t there yet,” he said, in a video recording obtained by Channel 2 News. “Anyone who thinks that there’ll be an Iranian nuclear weapon when we wake up tomorrow morning – well, we aren’t there yet.”
Rather than military action at this stage, Ashkenazi said, Israel should maintain a multi-pronged strategic approach — “a covert campaign” to thwart the Iranian nuclear drive; “diplomatic, political and economic sanctions; and a credible, realistic military threat.”
“We have to hope that this combination will keep Iran from going for the bomb,” he said.
The comments marked Ashkenazi’s clearest expression to date of opposition to the imminent strike reportedly being contemplated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. He had previously made similar but vaguer remarks.
Ashkenazi, in the same speech Thursday, also said Israel’s strategic situation would get better with the fall of President Bashar Assad of Syria. Even if Assad was replaced “by a Sunni regime,” he said, ultimately Assad’s departure would “improve our situation.”
The former chief of staff also stated that Israel was “not on the brink of war” with Egypt.
Elie Leshem contributed to this report.