Netanyahu calls Israel elections

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As widely anticipated, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday announced early elections. Citing the Knesset’s stalemate over passing a budget, Netanyahu said elections should be held as soon as possible.

Israeli media reports said that could be as early as late January or February.

Netanyahu also said that stopping Iran from getting a nuclear bomb would be his key priority in a second term.

The Likud prime minister is in a strong position to bolster his position in the elections, although his ruling coalition could be shaken up.

Israeli television reports speculated on two possible challengers: former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, or former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, both of the Likud  break-away Kadima party. Olmert was recently exonerated of corruption charges.

(Photo: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference in Jerusalem October 9, 2012. Netanyahu announced on Tuesday he would seek an early Israeli election, expected to be held in January or February. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun.)

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