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Mixed Messages Coming from Israel on Iran

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Isreali Lt. General Benny Gantz

by Sebastian Scheiner/Associated Press




Whether it's a sense that attacking Iran's nuclear facilities would have disastrous consequences, would be fool hardy and crazy, the Israeli leadership seems at odds with itself over Iran.

The latest has Israel's top military commander, General Benny Gantz saying, "Iranian leaders are rational actors" and "would decide not to build a nuclear weapon".

Meanwhile Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu contends he "would not count on Iran's rational behavior" while Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak says he doesn't see Iran "as rational in the Western sense of the word, meaning people seeking a status quo and the outlines of a solution to problems in a peaceful manner", (whatever that means).

In a recent interview on Al Jazeera English, Israeli deputy premier and minister of intelligence and atomic energy Dan Meritor said, "President Mahmood Ahmadinejad never called for Israel to be "wiped off the face of the map".

And last month, Meir Dagan, the recently retired chief of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency said, "An attack on Iran is a stupid idea."

All this coming out of Israel of late after President Obama told Netanyahu in their meeting in early March that sanctions were working and this is not the time for "loose talk of war" on Iran. Also in the last month, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has also called Iran a "rational actor".

So has the Israeli leadership, particularly Netanyahu and Barak stepped back from the precipice and their urgency for attacking Iran sooner rather than later, especially with a number of Israeli intelligence and army leaders saying essentially it's a bad idea?

Let's hope so.

Other than the usual dissembling, equivocating and misquoting when Gantz said later, "There's really no distance between his views and those of the prime minister", (to say nothing of the others clearly at odds with Netanyahu and Barak), the entire Israeli leadership is certainly not in lockstep agreement with regard to Iran's nuclear facilities, its leadership or the urgency for an attack.

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