Iran debate reaches boiling point in Israel

The debate about whether or not Israel should attack Iran has reached boiling point in the Jewish state.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week said Iran’s programme “dwarfed” all other threats to the existence of Israel.

“Iran must not be permitted to obtain nuclear weapons,” he told an Israeli television station.

Fifty four per cent of Israelis now see military strike as a viable option, according to a poll of 500 Israeli adults taken by the Dialog Institute last Sunday.

Iranian leaders have dismissed the prospect of an Israeli military attack as “hollow and baseless”.

Ramim Mehmanparast, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said last Tuesday: “Even if some officials in Israel want to carry out such a stupid action, there are those inside who won’t allow it because they know they would suffer very severe consequences from such an act.”

Amnon Lipkin Shahak, the former IDF Chief of Staff, stressed the importance of the White House in challenging Iran’s nuclear threat.

Silvan Shalon, Israel’s Vice Prime Minister and former Foreign Minister, said: “At this time we can bring the US to accept the right choices, and that is to impose even stricter sanctions that are made to subdue and topple the Iranian regime and perhaps bring it to abandon its nuclear programme.”

Leon Panetta, the US Defence Secretary, said last Tuesday: “From a diplomatic point of view, the reality is that we still think there is room to continue to negotiate.”

Mr Netanyahu, Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman will reportedly support a military strike on Iran if sanctions are ineffective and the US does not take action.

Last updated: 11:48am, August 15 2012