Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

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Netanyahu challenges Obama on Iran

Posted by valecardia su 1 aprile, 2009

THE NATIONAL

In January, Israel demonstrated its ability to conduct a long-range air strike when it destroyed a convoy of 23 trucks in a desolate corner of Sudan. “The attack was a warning to Iran and other adversaries, showing Israel’s intelligence capability and its willingness to mount operations far beyond its borders in order to defend itself from gathering threats,” Time magazine reported after speaking to “two highly placed Israeli security sources”.

Israel’s new prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu now warns that if President Obama fails to halt Iran’s nuclear programme then Israel will attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, according to Jeffrey Goldberg who interviewed the Israeli leader shortly before he was sworn into office on Tuesday.

“Neither Netanyahu nor his principal military advisers would suggest a deadline for American progress on the Iran nuclear programme, though one aide said pointedly that Israeli time lines are now drawn in months, ‘not years’. These same military advisers told me that they believe Iran’s defenses remain penetrable, and that Israel would not necessarily need American approval to launch an attack. ‘The problem is not military capability, the problem is whether you have the stomach, the political will, to take action,’ one of his advisers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told me.”

In a recent study conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Abdullah Toukan predicted that an air assault by Israel on Iran’s nuclear facilities would involve 20 per cent of the high-end combat aircraft and all of the tankers from the Israeli air force.

“We can conclude that a military strike by the Israeli air force against Iranian nuclear facilities is possible, however, it would be complex and high risk in the operational level and would lack any assurances of a high mission success rate.”

The study also noted that Iran may have secretly acquired Russian air defence systems in which case an Israeli strike force would face a significantly elevated risk.

“The attrition rates of the Israeli air strike will be high, could go up to 20 to 30 per cent. For a strike mission of some 90 aircraft, the attrition could then be between 20 to 30 aircraft. A loss Israel would hardly accept in paying.”

The study also considered the possibility that Israel might choose instead to use conventionally-armed ballistic missiles to attack Iran.

Whatever the method of attack, the effects of radioactive fallout emitted by the Bushehr nuclear reactor, if it was destroyed, would be severe. “Most definitely Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE will be heavily affected by the radionuclides.

“Any strike on the Bushehr nuclear reactor will cause the immediate death of thousands of people living in or adjacent to the site, and thousands of subsequent cancer deaths or even up to hundreds of thousands depending on the population density along the contamination plume.”

In pressing the case that a nuclear Iran would present not only a military threat to Israel but also an economic threat to the United States, Moshe Ya’alon, one of Mr Netanyahu’s chief security advisers bluntly asked: “Who will dominate the oil in the region — Washington or Tehran?”

Jeffrey Goldberg wrote: “Few in Netanyahu’s inner circle believe that Iran has any short-term plans to drop a nuclear weapon on Tel Aviv, should it find a means to deliver it. The first-stage Iranian goal, in the understanding of Netanyahu and his advisers, is to frighten Israel’s most talented citizens into leaving their country. ‘The idea is to keep attacking the Israelis on a daily basis, to weaken the willingness of the Jewish people to hold on to their homeland,’ Moshe Ya’alon said. ‘The idea is to make a place that is supposed to be a safe haven for Jews unattractive for them. They are waging a war of attrition.’

“The Israeli threat to strike Iran militarily if the West fails to stop the nuclear programme may, of course, be a tremendous bluff. After all, such threats may just be aimed at motivating President Obama and others to grapple urgently with the problem. But Netanyahu and his advisers seem to believe sincerely that Israel would have difficulty surviving in a Middle East dominated by a nuclear Iran. And they are men predisposed to action; many, like Netanyahu, are former commandos.”

As Mr Netanyahu was sworn in as Israel’s new prime minister on Tuesday, Israelis expressed little enthusiasm about their new government.

A poll conducted for Haaretz found: “Less than a third of those surveyed said they are satisfied with Netanyahu’s government. More than half, 54 per cent, are dissatisfied with the new government.

“During his speech at the Knesset Tuesday, Netanyahu said his government was formed to deal with two of Israel’s biggest challenges ever: defense — including Iran’s nuclear programme — and the economic slowdown. But most of the people surveyed said the new government is not prepared to respond to those challenges.”

Scepticism was also evident inside the Knesset where during the inauguration session, Mr Netanyahu’s speech was repeatedly interrupted by catcalls. While most of the interruptions were by opposition members, it was a member of the prime minister’s own coalition who caused the most frequent interruptions.

In Haaretz, Aluf Benn described the scene.

“The plenum gradually fills up, and the Knesset members in attendance honour the departing prime minister with silence, saving the interruptions for his successor’s speech.

“ ‘I do not stand here with the glee of victory,’ Netanyahu begins, ‘but with a sense of grave responsibility in testing times.’ His face is duly serious, unenthusiastic; this is no election rally speech. He wants to appear statesmanlike, grave. Netanyahu focuses on the country’s two main problems, security and the economy. They were caused not by his predecessors, but rather came about as a result of ‘enormous international developments.’ He does not refer to any past Israeli leader or to Winston Churchill, choosing instead to quote the Psalms, Israel’s Declaration of Independence and the letters of his late, legendary brother, Yoni Netanyahyu.”

Jeffrey Goldberg makes reference to the same letters. “In one letter, Yoni wrote to his teenage brother, then living in America, who had apparently been in a fight after someone directed an anti-Semitic remark at him. ‘I see … that you had to release the surplus energy you stored up during the summer,’ Yoni wrote. ‘There’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s too bad you sprained a finger in the process. In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with a good fist fight; on the contrary, if you’re young and you’re not seriously hurt, it won’t do you real harm. Remember what I told you? He who delivers the first blow, wins.’ “

Paul Woodward, Online Correspondent

Last Updated: April 01. 2009 9:40AM UAE / April 1. 2009 5:40AM GMT

http://www.thenational.ae/article/20090401/GLOBALBRIEFING/609964345/1009/WEEKENDER?template=globalbriefing

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