An Israeli media report claimed Monday that the US would support Israeli if the administration went forward with a pre-emptive strike on Iran.
Israeli daily Maariv quoted Republican and democrat diplomatic sources which said that US President Barack Obama’s administration would step in to strengthen Israeli defence against retaliatory attacks by Iran’s allies in the event of Israeli launching an attack.
The allegation came after Israeli television claimed Friday that Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak have “almost” decided in favour of attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities this year. The report further asserted that Obama is not in favour of military action in the lead up to November’s US presidential elections.
Obama’s campaign team has been increasingly concerned that the president’s active support of diplomacy and economic sanctions with regard to Iran’s disputed nuclear weapons programme could make him appear politically weak and hand the initiative to Republican opponent Mitt Romney, who has been outspoken on the need to consider military action against the regime. Romney has also questioned Obama’s loyalty to close US ally Israel in light of Obama’s reticence to champion Israeli concerns about Iran’s nuclear intentions.
On a visit to Israel at the end of last month, Romney stressed he recognised “Israel’s right to defend itself”, adding that “we should employ any and all measures to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course” and that “it is right for America to stand” with Israel in addressing concerns regarding the Iranian regime’s pursuit of nuclear capabilities.
Romney’s visit was closely followed by a trip by US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta who, whilst seconding Romney’s rhetoric that the US must “exert all options” to prevent Iranian nuclear power, appeared to caution Israel against a pre-emptive strike, insisting “we have to exhaust every option, every effort before we resort to military action”.
According to the newspaper report, both Romney himself and Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren were party to the memos between Washington and Jerusalem, although the Israeli Embassy in Washington has so far refused to verify the claims.
The decision to strike Iran could be made as early as next month when Obama and Netanyahu are set to meet at the UN General Assembly and could provide Obama with the necessary kudos to secure a second term in office.
However, a survey by the Dialogue Institute revealed Sunday that only 32% of Israelis are in favour of a pre-emptive strike on Iran. The news comes as Netanyahu’s approval rating with the Israeli electorate has fallen from 46% three months ago to 34%, following last month’s dramatic collapse of the national unity government, which had been formed to ward off holding an early election and to shore up support for Netanyahu’s political mandate.