It is doubtful any of the parties will challenge Prime Minister Netanyahu on the issue of striking Iran. “No one wants to be accused of helping Iran develop nuclear weapons and anyone who brings it up and tries to make it a campaign issue will be accused of this,” states said communications professor Gadi Wolfsfeld of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.
Significant fallout is emerging from the former head of Israeli security agency Shin Bet Yuval Diskin, who launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Friday, saying they are guided by “messianic” impulses and lying about the projected effectiveness of an Israeli strike on Iran. Another former intelligence agent agrees with Diskin’s comments that an attack on Iran nuclear facilities could accelerate their program. Iran would possibly accelerate its nuclear weapons program after a future Israeli military strike, former IDF Intelligence head Shlomo Gazit told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. Former Israeli prime minister (2000-2009) Ehud Olmert has added his voice to those Israelis opposed to a military attack on Iran and is calling for restraint.
Do earlier elections help Prime Minister Netanyahu? It seems so. Rivals will not have enough time to get their messages across. In a recent poll, Netanyahu has 48% support while Shelly Yacimovic has 15% and Shaul Mofaz has only 6%. Netanyahu’s Likud party is predicted have 35-37 seats in the Knesset. 62% of Israelis believe that early elections are not necessary. Despite Diskin’s warning that Netanyahu and Barak cannot be trusted to deal wisely with the Iranian nuclear issue, only 25% agreed with Diskin’s description while 51% disagreed with him.
Becoming reelected will bolster Netanyahu’s positions on Iran and Palestine prior to US presidential elections. He will be less pressured to negotiate and could be as so bold as to attack Iran before the US elections. But he would put Israel at significant risk of a longer term conflict should the United States not directly support an attack. He is also aware that the majority of Israelis are skeptical that an attack is justified. And, his credibility on the Iran issue will be further questioned as former Israeli government and security officials publicly voice different opinions as to the Iran nuclear threat and how to confront it. One thing that is probably imminent with respect to Iran is that Netanyahu’s interpretation of the Iranian nuclear threat will make it to televisions all of the United States in election-related commercials this fall.