Israeli Chief of Staff Undercuts PM on Iran—Then Retracts

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The daylight grows, though, when Gantz addresses the urgency issue at greater length:

Clearly, the more the Iranians progress the worse the situation is. This is a critical year, but not necessarily “go, no-go.” The problem doesn’t necessarily stop on December 31, 2012. We’re in a period when something must happen: Either Iran takes its nuclear program to a civilian footing only or the world, perhaps we too, will have to do something. We’re closer to the end of the discussions than the middle.

The first part of that somewhat muddled utterance is, no doubt, different from saying as Netanyahu did that “if the sanctions are going to work they better work soon” and that Iran is “feverishly working to develop atomic weapons”—and from Barak’s recent warnings that Iran is fast reaching a “zone of immunity” from Israeli attack. Indeed, Gantz says there’s time to spare until the end of the year. But beginning with “We’re in a period when something must happen”—Gantz sounds closer to Netanyahu and Barak’s perceptions.

Gantz appears most at odds with the prime minister and defense minister, though, when he says Iran

is going step by step to the place where it will be able to decide whether to manufacture a nuclear bomb. It hasn’t yet decided whether to go the extra mile…. If the supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wants, he will advance [the program] to the acquisition of a nuclear bomb, but the decision must first be taken…. I believe he would be making an enormous mistake, and I don’t think he will want to go the extra mile. I think the Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people. But I agree that such a capability, in the hands of Islamic fundamentalists who at particular moments could make different calculations, is dangerous.

Again, Gantz himself qualifies his statement at the end. But undoubtedly his words are a “money shot” for all those—starting in the media but hardly ending there—who want to undercut Netanyahu and Barak’s message, discourage an Israeli attack, and rest in the comfortable delusion that the mullahs are reasonable folk not too different from us.

In short, not much of an Independence Day gift from the chief of staff to the Israeli people—or to the cause of truth and realism in the face of a dire threat.

Nor is it hard to imagine Netanyahu flying off the handle in response. That surmise seems validated by the fact that later on Thursday, amid the Independence Day festivities, Gantz gave an apparent damage-control interview to AP in which he said—intriguingly—“that other countries have readied their armed forces for a potential strike against Iran’s nuclear sites….”

Gantz, says AP, “did not specify which nations might be willing to support or take direct action against Iran. Still, his comments were one of the strongest hints yet that Israel may have the backing of other countries to strike the Islamic Republic to prevent it from developing nuclear arms.”

The report goes on to say that Gantz “denied” being “at odds with Israel’s political leaders…saying there was no internal disagreement over Iran’s aims.”

As Israel steps into its 65th year of independence, let’s hope top Israeli officials can avoid tossing morsels to the media wolf-pack—and are more or less in sync on the most crucial issue facing the country.

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  • WildJew

    Chief of Staff Gantz said the following to Israel Hayom yesterday: “An Iran with a militarized nuclear capability could potentially be an existential threat, but it is not necessarily an existential threat,” he said. “These statements were made in the past and I think it would be appropriate to clarify them. We are the strongest country in the region, and I think that we need to make sure that the situation stays this way in the future. The problem of a nuclear Iran is much more of a global problem than it is an Israeli problem…"
    http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_articl

  • StephenD

    The balance of the world would like to show discord among the Israeli leadership. As with all human institutions there will be disagreements and some issues won't be seen in the same light. Proves they're free thinkers rather than EVERYONE spouting a party line (American Democrat Party Leaders). The world also knows that the Iranian leadership is whacked out of their minds. They know their desire to usher in the 12th Imam and bring disaster to the world. Israel will be on the front line but not the only line. Iran CANNOT be allowed to have a nuke. When we get a real leader in the W.H. perhaps we can see cooler heads prevail at the sight of strength of purpose as an Ally to Israel. Maybe Iran will calm down but if not they know what they face.

    • WildJew

      Americans do not see a nuclear Iran as an existential or an immediate threat. I think this is a mistake, because as Iran stockpiles nuclear weapons and provides these materials to terrorist groups and cells, the world will be a more dangerous place, not to mention the incredible instability in the Middle East and the region a nuclear Iran will generate. A nuclear Iran is more of an "immediate" threat to Israel than it is to the world, that is where I disagree with Chief of Staff Gantz and Netanyahu by the way, who makes a similar case. The international community does not feel threatened the way Israel does and for good reason. Iran's murderous proxies are concentrating on Israel for now. Given the track record of the Bush administration and the Obama administration, I do not see the United States acting militarily to prevent Iran from making nukes. Both administrations have tried to dissuade Israel from acting in her own self-defense. In the long-run, a nuclear Iran will pose a terrible threat to the world.

  • Schlomotion

    The problem here is that the US redline to Iran is "do not develop a nuclear weapon" and Israel's redline to Iran is "do not develop a nuclear power plant." Hornik is siding with the Israelis, not the Americans. This is understandable, because he lives in Beersheva. A lot of American Zionists also side with Israel and not America on this. I think they should move to Beersheva too.

    • reader

      I think you should move to Teheran.

    • Bulan Sabriel

      Iran's leaders have called for the destruction of the "Great Satan". "Death to America" is a government-sponsored chant at events. These people mean to humble and destroy America. I would say that you are a traitor who hates Israel more than he loves America, but I have never once seen evidence that you love America.

    • Hank Rearden

      You don't need 20% enriched uranium to run a reactor. Reactors run on 3% enriched uranium. The significance of 20% is that it shows the Iranians have a viable enrichment cascade. Fortunately, while it is easy to build a bomb once you have the highly enriched uranium, it is considerably more difficult to miniaturize it for a missile warhead.

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      Schlock, You should move to the Turd Reich.

      Say Hi to your furher and osama bin laden for me.

  • Ghostwriter

    Whoever said the Mullahs in Iran were rational people?

  • cjk

    Israel is too smart and under too much of a threat to have open disagreements or even appear to have them on such a high level.
    They are doing this on purpose to confuse the Iranians as to their true intentions IMO.
    Actually kind of concerns me because this and more of this is exactly what I would expect before an actual attack on the fascists in Tehran.

  • bubbaland1

    Rather weak article. Netanyahu and Barak are blow hards. They have been yammering about attacking Iran for a long time. Israel does not have the stomach to go it alone. The unstated reality is that Israel abdicated its sovereignty to the USA when they signed the Oslo accords.

  • Hank Rearden

    Sounds like it's time for Netanyahu to roll out Patton's comment to Truscott – "General, if your conscience will not permit you to carry out my orders, I'll relieve you and get someone who will."

  • SCREW SOCIALISM

    It is better to destroy the Islamic Republic of Iran BEFORE it gets nukes than after.

    The Persian people hate the mullahs that replaced the Shah, more than they hated the Shah.

    What Freedom have the ayatollahs permitted the Persian people? The Freedom of Koranic/Islamofascist enslavement and the burkas, stoning to death for "family honor", public executions of gay teens.

    The Islamic Republic of Iran MUST BE DESTROYED before they can spread the poison of sharia law to entire world.