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Netanyahu trying to persuade cabinet to support attack on Iran

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who previously objected to attacking Iran, was recently persuaded by Netanyahu and Barak to support such a move.

HAARETZ.com

November 3, 2011 | 2:22 pm

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Nov. 2). Photo by REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Nov. 2). Photo by REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are trying to muster a majority in the cabinet in favor of military action against Iran, a senior Israeli official has said. According to the official, there is a “small advantage” in the cabinet for the opponents of such an attack.

Netanyahu and Barak recently persuaded Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who previously objected to attacking Iran, to support such a move.

Although more than a million Israelis have had to seek shelter during a week of rockets raining down on the south, political leaders have diverted their attention to arguing over a possible war with Iran. Leading ministers were publicly dropping hints on Tuesday that Israeli could attack Iran, although a member of the forum of eight senior ministers said no such decision had been taken.

Western intelligence officials agree that Iran is forging ahead with its nuclear program. Intelligence services now say it will take Iran two or three years to get the bomb once it decides to (it hasn’t made the decision yet ).

Netanyahu did not rule out the possibility of the need for a military action on Iran this week. During his Knesset address on Monday, Netanyahu warned of Iran’s increased power and influence. “One of those regional powers is Iran, which is continuing its efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. A nuclear Iran would constitute a grave threat to the Middle East and the entire world, and of course it is a direct and grave threat on us,” he said.

Barak said Israel should not be intimidated but did not rule out the possibility that Israel would launch a military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. “I object to intimidation and saying Israel could be destroyed by Iran,” he said.

“We’re not hiding our thoughts. However there are issues we don’t discuss in public ... We have to act in every way possible and no options should be taken off the table ... I believe diplomatic pressure and sanctions must be brought to bear against Iran,” he said.

Former Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said he feared a “horror scenario” in which Netanyahu and Barak decide to attack Iran. He warned of a “rash act” and said he hoped “common sense will prevail.”

Read more at Haaretz.com.

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