Only the government will decide on Iran strike, defense minister declares

Ehud Barak says war with a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic would be ‘incomparably’ more dangerous than a preemptive campaign

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Ehud Barak (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Ehud Barak (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday dismissed statements in opposition to an attack on Iran by figures outside the government, saying the government could and would make the decision on its own.

“The prime minister, defense minister and foreign minister have the authority. There is an octet of ministers, there’s a cabinet, and the decision will be made as necessary by the government of Israel. That’s how it is and how it needs to be — not a group of civilians or even newspaper editorials,” Barak said at the swearing-in ceremony for Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter at the Knesset.

“That’s not to say there isn’t disagreement, but the issue is being debated,” Barak said.

Barak urged immediate action to halt Iran’s nuclear weapons program, but noted that “there are dangers in the situation today. It’s not simple. There’s no shortage of dangers, no shortage of unforeseeable outcomes to dealing with Iran today.”

However, he said, military conflict with a nuclear-armed Iran would be “incomparably” more dangerous and costly to Israel than a conflict with a conventionally armed foe.

Opposition leader Shaul Mofaz voiced opposition to the prospect of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of sowing panic and deliberately trying to terrify the Israeli people. What Israelis are really scared of, he told the Knesset, is the prime minister’s “lack of judgment” in “executing a dangerous and irresponsible policy.”

“Mr. Prime Minister, you are dragging us into a reckless confrontation at an unnecessary price and with an undefended home front,” Mofaz charged.

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