Friday, December 07, 2007

Israel Doesn't Want To, and Cannot Bomb Iran Alone

A recent poll says the Israeli population opposes a unilateral attack on Iran.

When asked "should Israel alone attack the Iranian nuclear installations," 67.2 percent said no, while 20.9 percent said yes and 11.9 percent had no opinion, said the survey aired on public radio.

Even if Israel's people favored an attack without American assistance, it would not be feasible.

Several of Israel's Iran experts say the American rethink on the threat posed by Iran had ruled out a US military strike and probably an Israeli strike too, at least for now. However, Israel's political hawks continue to keep the threat of action alive.

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However, it is widely assumed Israel would need at least American approval if not cooperation for any bombing mission. In particular, Israel's air force would need the US flight codes that would allow its planes to cross safely into Iran. When Israel requested those codes in 1991, to attack Saddam Hussein's Iraq during the first Gulf War, the United States refused and there was no Israeli strike.

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"I think it is quite unrealistic to think Israel will go it alone against Iran in a military way," said Ephraim Asculai, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. He said it appeared Iran would respond to a tougher sanctions regime that demonstrated to Tehran that the cost of its nuclear ambitions outweighed their benefits.

The Israeli climbdown will be complete when the Israelis accept not only that will there not be military strikes, but there also will not be tougher sanctions. It looks like 2008 will be the year Israel and the US accept Iran as a nuclear-capable power in the same sense as Brazil.

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