Is­raeli army blocked three Iran at­tack plans: ex-de­fense chief

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Is­rael’s for­mer De­fense Min­is­ter Ehud Barak has said in an in­ter­view that three Iran at­tack plans backed by both him­self and Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu were blocked by the mil­i­tary.

Barak, de­fense min­is­ter from 2009 to 2013 told the pri­vately run tele­vi­sion sta­tion Chan­nel 2 overnight Fri­day that the plans were drawn up be­tween 2009 and 2010.

They were ap­proved both by him and Ne­tanyahu, but the re­sponse of the then chief of staff, Gen. Gaby Ashke­nazi, “was not pos­i­tive.”

Ashke­nazi’s suc­ces­sor Benny Gantz told the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship that “the pos­si­bil­i­ties (for an at­tack on Iran) ex­ist, but you know its lim­i­ta­tions and risks,” Barak said.

He said the mil­i­tary’s reser­va­tions con­vinced two mem­bers of the eight-mem­ber se­cu­rity cab­i­net — Moshe Yaalon and Yu­val Steinitz — not to back such a plan, de­priv­ing the premier of the nec­es­sary ma­jor­ity to pro­ceed.

Yaalon, the cur­rent de­fense min­is­ter, had the strate­gic af­fairs port­fo­lio at the time, while Steinitz who is now in­fra­struc­ture and energy min­is­ter was then fi­nance min­is­ter.

Barak said an op­por­tu­nity in 2012 to at­tack Iran was shelved as it would have co­in­cided with large joint mil­i­tary ex­er­cises with the United States “which was likely to em­bar­rass Washington and give the im­pres­sion the Amer­i­cans were di­rectly in­volved in the at­tack.”

In 2013, for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Ehud Olmert ac­cused his suc­ces­sor Ne­tanyahu of spend­ing nearly US$3 mil­lion on prepa­ra­tions for an at­tack on Iran that never ma­te­ri­al­ized.

For years, Ne­tanyahu has trum­peted the threat to use the “mil­i­tary op­tion” to pre­vent Iran from ac­quir­ing nu­clear weapons.

He cat­e­gor­i­cally op­poses the agree­ment reached in mid-July be­tween the Is­lamic re­pub­lic and ma­jor pow­ers which will lead to the lift­ing of eco­nomic sanc­tions against Tehran.

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