Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s advocacy for military strikes against Iran is running into rough weather with powerful domestic voices rejecting his call as “irresponsible.”
Shaul Mofaz, leader of the Kadima party, is the latest to join the chorus against the hawkish pro-war stance adopted by the Prime Minister and his Defence Minister Ehud Barak.
Using unusually harsh language, Mr. Mofaz told Israel’s Army Radio on Sunday Mr. Netanyahu seemed “confused, stressed out and unfocused,” during a meeting on Iran that the two had held last week. Sharpening his attack further, Mr. Mofaz said: “He seems to have lost his wits.” The Kadima leader added that “rather than making thought-out, responsible decisions, he is creating the sense of an impending war”.
“The Prime Minister has lost the faith of the security chiefs, United States President [Barack] Obama, and [Israeli] President Shimon Peres.” “This is a bankrupt leadership.” Mr. Mofaz also backed the sharp criticism of Mr. Netanyahu’s combative position on Iran by Eliyahu Winograd, a former Supreme Court Justice.
Also speaking with Army Radio on Sunday, Mr. Winograd was scathing in his attack on the Netanyahu-Barak combine, which he said was engaging in “irresponsible” talk regarding an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.
The well-known jurist’s familiarity with the pitfalls of ill-prepared military action is well-established. He had headed the 2008 Commission that had brought out the logistical and tactical lacunas in the war preparations of the armed forces against the Hizbollah in the 2006 Lebanon war.
“All the heads of the security establishment, of the Shin Bet and the Mossad, past and present, they all say do not attack,” said Mr. Winograd. “Are only Barak and Netanyahu to decide?”
Mr. Winograd warned that if Israel attacked, “Iran is likely not only to fire missiles — and it has the means to do so — at strategic points in Israel, but Hizbollah will have an opportunity to help Iran, as well as Hamas from Gaza and Sinai. In brief, we expect a rain of missiles from all directions, and I do not know whether the home front is prepared. We see press reports that the home front is far from ready.”
Mr. Winograd apprehended that a retaliation against a military strike on Iran might cause permanent damage to Israel. “You are going to risk our entire country, all that we have built, both physically and economically.”
The domestic momentum against a military strike on Iran began to build up with the cautionary remarks by the Israeli President Shimon Peres.
In an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 last month Mr. Peres said: “It is clear that we cannot do it [attack] on our own. We can delay it [Iran’s nuclear programme), but we realise we have to proceed together with America. There are questions of cooperation and of timetables, but as severe as the danger is, at least this time we're not alone.”
The U.S. military also seemed unenthusiastic about a unilateral Israeli military push against Iran. Speaking to journalists in London on Thursday, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey said he did not want to be “complicit” in an Israeli strike against Iran.
He cautioned that an attack would “clearly delay but probably not destroy Iran’s nuclear programme”. “I don't want to be complicit if they [Israel] choose to do it,” he observed.