Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to rally support in his cabinet for an attack on Iran, according to government sources.
The country's defence minister Ehud Barak and the foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman are said to be among those backing a pre-emptive strike to neutralise Iran's nuclear ambitions.
But a narrow majority of ministers currently oppose the move, which could trigger a wave of regional retaliation.
The debate over possible Israeli military action has reached fever pitch in recent days with newspaper leader columns discussing the benefits and dangers of hitting Iran.
Mr Lieberman responded to the reports of a push to gain cabinet approval by saying that "Iran poses the most dangerous threat to world order."
Needless to say, an Israeli strike on Iran would not only set off a Middle East conflagration, killing countless innocent people, it would immediately embroil Americans in the catastrophe. It doesn't take much to imagine the far-reaching consequences were Israel to plunge the United States into a war with Iran. What do Israel's politicians gain from their fear-mongering and saber-rattling?
Here's a clue:
“There’s a very real possibility that Israel will attack Iran,” says Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. “It’s a delaying thing. You won’t hear the word Palestinian for another five years." (HT: Philip Weiss)
This is the one to worry to about.
For the record, the U.S. government's dozen and a half intelligence agencies have twice reported that Iran gave up pursuit of a nuclear weapon in 2003.
UPDATE: Israeli peace activist Uri Avery gives me a reason to calm down:
It is an old Israeli tactic to act as if we are going crazy (“The boss has gone mad” is a routine cry in our markets, to suggest that the fruit vendor is selling at a loss.) We shall not listen to the US any more. We shall just bomb and bomb and bomb.
Well, let’s be serious for a moment.
Israel will not attack Iran. Period.Avnery suggests that the war rumblings are a way to get the Obama administration to further put the screws to Iran and to protect Israel's military budget from cuts. I hope he's right.
UPDATE 2: Another cause for optimism: "Former Mossad Chief Ephraim Halevy warned against an Israeli strike on Iran, saying that the results of a confrontation could be devastating for the Mideast." Halevy went on to say that radical ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel "pose a bigger risk than Ahmadinejad." (Ynet News; HT: Philip Weiss)
UPDATE 3: But see this report by Barbara Starr, CNN's Pentagon correspondent:
The United States has become increasingly concerned Israel could be preparing to strike Iran's nuclear program, a senior U.S. military official told CNN on Friday....
The military official told CNN that the United States is watching any Israeli military movements closely as well as those inside Iran. In the past, the U.S. officials felt they had assurances from Israel that it would give warning to the United States of any attack.
"Now that doesn't seem so ironclad," the official said.