|Then-IDF chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi (right), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister |
Ehud Barak, pictured in Haifa in 2009 (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson/FLASH90)
When it was put to him that the US has opposed a unilateral Israeli resort to force, Netanyahu said President Barack Obama had stated that Israel has the right to defend itself as it sees fit, and that Israel dare not entrust its future to others, even to the United States. Israel’s prime ministers had ignored US disapproval in establishing the country in 1948 and preempting the Arab attack in the 1967 war, he noted. Netanyahu was interviewed as part of an investigative TV report that traced Israel’s efforts over the past decade to thwart Iran’s march toward the bomb. The documentary, which included interviews with several serving and former top politicians and security chiefs, detailed sabotage, assassinations of scientists and other measures used by Israel — as reported in foreign publications — to slow the Iranian program. It described the 2007 air strike that destroyed Syria’s nuclear reactor as “a general rehearsal for an attack” on Iran. Asked whether he believed Netanyahu had the guts to order a strike on Iran, the prime minister’s former national security adviser, Uzi Arad, said he had “no doubt.” When it was put to Netanyahu himself that others believed he lacked the guts to order a strike, he replied, “I hope I won’t have to.” A central theme of the program was the assertion that Netanyahu and his Defense Minister Ehud Barak had ordered the defense establishment in 2010 to elevate its state of readiness so that it would be capable of attacking Iran within hours if so required — “the closest Israel has come to attacking Iran,” according to the program — but that two top security chiefs flatly refused to do as they were told.
The order to raise the IDF state of readiness to what was codenamed “P Plus” was given by Netanyahu and Barak to then-chief of the General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Mossad chief Meir Dagan at a meeting in Jerusalem two years ago, the program said. But Dagan, the program claimed, rejected it as “illegal,” noting that a full cabinet decision was required for such an order. And Ashkenazi, the program said, vehemently opposed the step because he considered it “a strategic mistake” and feared that implementing the order might lead to an unintended war. Asked about these dramatic exchanges, Netanyahu did not respond directly, but he indicated that they were inaccurate. And he stressed that “ultimately, the responsibility (for such decisions) is the prime minister’s.” The chief of staff “has the right to make recommendations,” he said. But as prime minister, he would overrule such recommendations if necessary, he indicated. Barak did not deny seeking to order the raised state of readiness, but he said it had proved impossible because Ashkenazi had not prepared a viable military option. Sources close to Ashkenazi told the program this was untrue. Vowing that Israel “is ready to act” against Iran, Netanyahu said he was watching the Islamist regime “advancing step by step… toward producing nuclear bombs.” When the Jews were being murdered by the Nazis, they were unable to save themselves, he said. But he, as Israel’s prime minister, did have the capacity to protect the Jewish nation. “When we didn’t have a state, we begged others” to defend the Jews, he said. “Today, we’re not begging, we are preparing.” - Times of Israel.