Netanyahu’s aides rebuke president
JERUSALEM, Aug 18: Aides to Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu have launched a stinging rebuke to the country’s president, Shimon Peres, after he said Israel should not act alone in launching military action against Iran’s nuclear programme.
“Shimon Peres forgets what the role of the president of Israel is,” officials from Netanyahu’s office were quoted in the Israeli media as saying. The aides offered examples from the past when they said Peres’s judgment had been wrong.
The row is a stark example of the sharp differences at the heart of Israel’s political, military and intelligence establishment over the merits and dangers of an early unilateral military strike on Iran. Speculation has intensified recently that Netanyahu and the Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, are considering launching a strike this autumn, before the US presidential election.
In an interview on Israeli television, Peres said: “It is clear to us we cannot do it on our own. We can only delay [Iran's progress]. Thus it’s clear to us that we need to go together with America. There are questions of co-operation and timetables, but as severe as the danger is, at least this time we’re not alone.”
He said he was confident the US would take action, but added: “My estimate is that they will not do this before the elections, which are more than 80 days away.”
Following the remarks, a Netanyahu aide cited three previous occasions when he said Peres had been wrong. The first was after the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993 when Peres “thought there would be a new Middle East”.
The second was following Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 when “he thought there would be peace – but in reality we got missiles”. The aide continued: “But Peres’s biggest mistake was in 1981 when he opposed [Israel's] bombing of the Iraqi
reactor. Luckily, prime minister Menachem Begin ignored him.” Peres later stood by his comments, saying: “I say what is in my heart with a loud and clear voice.”
By arrangement with the Guardian