Israel presses Obama to threaten Iran

Fri, Mar 2, 2012, 00:00

ISRAEL IS pressing President Barack Obama for an explicit threat of military action against Iran if sanctions fail and Tehran’s nuclear programme advances beyond specified “red lines”.

Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, is expected to raise the issue at a White House meeting next Monday after weeks of intense diplomacy in which Mr Obama has dispatched senior officials – including his intelligence, national security and military chiefs – to Jerusalem to try to dampen down talk of an attack.

Diplomats say that Israel is angered by the Obama administration’s public disparaging of early military action against Iran, saying that it weakens the prospect of Tehran taking the warnings from Israel seriously.

The two sides are attempting to agree a joint public statement to paper over the divide but talks will not be made easier by a deepening distrust in which the Israelis question Mr Obama’s commitment to confront Iran while the White House is frustrated by what it sees as political interference by Mr Netanyahu to mobilise support for Israel’s position in Congress.

“They are poles apart,” said one diplomatic source. “The White House believes there is time for sanctions to work and that military threats don’t help. The Israelis regard this as woolly thinking.

“They see Iran as heading towards a bomb, even though they agree there is no evidence Tehran has made that decision yet.” – (Guardian service)