Israel talks of unilateral action on Iran
JERUSALEM ISRAEL’S foreign minister on Sunday said that American pressure will not affect Israeli thinking on how to cope with the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear programme.
Avigdor Lieberman delivered his assessment on the eve of a key meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama at the White House.
Both countries believe that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, but divisions have emerged on how to confront the threat.
Israel has sent a series of signals recently that military action may be needed to stop the Iranians. The US, while not ruling out the threat of force, has said that tough new Western economic sanctions imposed on Iran must be given time to work. Iran claims its programme is for peaceful purposes.
In comments aimed at Israel, Obama said in a magazine interview last week that he is not bluffing about attacking Iran if it builds a nuclear weapons.
But he also cautioned Israel that a premature attack on Iran would do more harm than good.
Asked about the president’s comments, Lieberman told Israel Radio on Sunday that Israel doesn’t “dictate anything” to the US.
“It is definitely important to discuss the issue in the appropriate forums and make decisions quietly and responsibly. All this chatter does not help anybody,” he said.
Asked what Netanyahu should tell Obama to ensure that Israel is not left by itself to deal with the Iranian threat, Lieberman said the sides would exchange opinions but ultimately Israel would act in its own interests.
“President Obama definitely doesn’t need our advice,” he said. “We are an independent sovereign state, and at the end of the day, the state of Israel will make the most correct decisions as we understand them.” Israel believes Iran would be a threat to its very existence, citing Iranian support for anti-Israel militant groups, repeated Iranian calls for Israel’s destruction and Iran’s development of ballistic missiles capable of striking Israel.
With US elections approaching and the global economy extremely fragile, the US and its Western allies are deeply concerned about unilateral Israeli military action.