Netanyahu lashes out at US: No “moral right to place red light” on Israel

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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.” Continue reading

Former Israeli nat’l security advisor: “Right way to deal with Iran was through diplomacy”

My colleague Barbara Slavin writes:

Haaretz’s Ari Shavit, interviewing former IDF planning chief and National Security Advisor Giora Eiland, has come up with the most substantive list yet of the pros and cons for Israeli military action against Iran. The bottom line: Eiland joins numerous other Israeli intelligence and defense experts in giving greater weight to the cons in the process.

Eiland, who also served as Israeli National Security Advisor from 2003-2006, calls the prospect of facing either Iran with a bomb vs. bombing Iran, “a choice between the plague and cholera.”

For each choice, he says, there are four main risks. An Iran with nuclear weapons could launch one against Israel, a prospect he says is extremely unlikely but not nonexistent. Risk two is sparking a Middle East arms race, three is worsening Israel’s strategic position with regard to conventional conflict and four is spurring “a radical tidal wave in the Muslim world.”

Eiland’s candid enumeration of the risks of Israeli military action, however, suggests that “cholera” is worse than the plague. Risk one, he says, is that the operation could fail because of the dispersed and hardened nature of the Iranian nuclear program. If that happens, risk two is “a terrible erosion of our regional deterrent capability, which will encourage all sorts of sharks to attack the Israel that issued a threat and failed to carry through and is now bleeding in the water.” Continue reading