Friday, May 11, 2012

Does Netanyahu's New Coaltion Government Make an Israeli Strike on Iran More Likely or Less Likely?

Unity government in Israel - prelude to Israel Attacking Iran?

Just as Israel was progressing towards new elections, Israeli Prime Minister stunned Israel and the world by suddenly entering into a coalition agreement with Shaul Mofaz and his Kadima Party.  This means the Netanyahu coalition now has over three-quarters of seats in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, putting Netanyahu in a commanding position on the Israeli political scene.

Inevitably, speculation has turned to whether the new coalition government in Israel has come together as a prelude to an Israeli attack on Iran using Jericho missiles, the Israeli Air Force, and Israeli special operations commandos (for those who may want to review how an Israeli attack on Iran might unfold, here is an older post on the subject).  The idea here is that all ends of the Israeli political spectrum have come together in a unity government, uniting the country and signaling that this is preparation for an Israeli preemptive attach on Iran's nuclear sites.  Commentators have noted that the same type of unity government was formed in 1967, just before Israel struck at the Egyptian and Syrian troops who were massed on Israel's borders to attack Israel.

However, my personal opinion is that Netanyahu wants the world - especially the United States - to believe this is preparation for an Israeli attack in order to put pressure on the Americans to either reach a negotiated deal with the Iranians on Iran's nuclear program, or failing at that, to have the US take the lead in striking Iran.  From an Israeli perspective, it is infinitely more preferable that the US attacks Iran rather then Israel as the Americans' military capabilities certainly are substantially greater then even the powerful Israeli military.  Netanyahu is a canny politician, and he prefers this level of ambiguity to keep the Iranians as well as the Americans guessing about Israel's intentions.

Here is an article on US officials' fears that Israel's unity government may launch an attack on Iran.  In addition, here is an article on CNN from a former American official Aaron David Miller outlining what some of Netanyahu's motives for forming the unity government with Kadim and Shaul Movaz might be.

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