Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unleashed a stunning tirade against the United States and European allies Tuesday, lambasting “world” leaders for not publicly setting “red lines” or “deadlines” on Iran, while urging Israeli restraint on military action.
“The world tells Israel: ‘Wait, there’s still time,’” Netanyahu said at a press conference Tuesday, the New York Times reported. “‘And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’”
“Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel,” he continued.
“Netanyahu is going berserk,” a former Israeli official told Al-Monitor Tuesday. “By asking for red lines publicly, dialoguing with Obama through the media,” and by doing it on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The Israeli leader’s latest broadside against the United States appeared to be set off by comments made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday, that the United States is “not setting deadlines” on Iran diplomacy.
“We are not setting deadlines,” Clinton said in an interview with Bloomberg News Sunday. “We have always said every option was on the table, but we believe …the diplomatic effort …but also pressure …[are] by far, the best approach to take at this time.”
The comment appeared to infuriate Netanyahu, who spoke in English as he lambasted international calls for Israeli restraint at a press conference with visiting Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov Tuesday. His tirade also followed the urging of restraint and vows of international resolve by a parade of European foreign ministers to Israel in recent weeks.
“Now if Iran knows that there is no red line, if Iran knows that there is no deadline, what will it do?” Netanyahu said.
But former Israeli Defense Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dan Halutz, speaking Tuesday in Washington, said that it would be a mistake to publicly spell out “red lines” on Iran–as Israeli political leaders are imploring the White House to do.
“Red lines are red the moment one is drawing them,” Halutz said at the Brookings Institution Saban Center for Middle East Studies Tuesday. “But at the time to take a decision, the color is not red. The situation is changing all the time. We live in a very dynamic world….You cannot stick to the decision to act accordingly later.”
Furthermore, Hallutz said, it is better to “keep some uncertainty on the other side” about what the red lines are, to not let them know exactly what the “borders” are, that they might approach or bypass.
Netanyahu is expected to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York September 28th.
American officials remain uncertain what Israeli intentions are on Iran, or if there is anything Obama could say, publicly or privately, that would satisfy Israeli political leaders. Obama has repeatedly vowed that he will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.
Halutz, for his part, said he did not expect an Israeli military strike on Iran before the US presidential election November 6th.
“My feeling is, no one is going to surprise no one in the near future,” Halutz said.
(Photo: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference in Jerusalem September 11, 2012. Netanyahu ramped up on Tuesday threats to attack Iran, saying if world powers refused to set a red line for Tehran’s nuclear programme, they could not demand that Israel hold its fire. REUTERS/Gali Tibbon/Pool)