Will Israelis bomb Iran?


MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Marianna Belenkaya) - For the umpteenth time now, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called Israel a "regime based on evil.

" He added that "the Jewish state cannot continue and one day will vanish." This and similar statements by the Iranian president about Israel have already become trite through frequent repetition, but the current situation around Iran is giving them a sinister tinge.

Ahmadinejad's words may become an extra argument for those who are seeking an excuse for a military campaign against Iran. The world media frequently quote them in the articles whose authors discuss a possibility of Israel striking at Iran's nuclear facilities. It looks like Israel is simply being pushed to take this step. But does it need it?

Rosa Brooks wrote in the Los Angeles Times in late April: "...it (the war) will be precipitated by the 700-million Russian deal this week to sell Tor air defense missile systems to Iran. When the war begins, it will be between Iran and Israel. Before it ends, though, it may set the whole of the Middle East on fire..."

In 1981, Israel dealt a blow at Iraq's nuclear reactor because it regarded it a threat to its national security. If it has done it once, why cannot it do it again, all the more so since Iran is showering it with threats? This idea is popular in some Israeli quarters. Talking to the current leaders, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly praised Tel Aviv's actions in 1981.

But the situation in the region is different from what it was a quarter century ago. At that time, the bombing of an Iraqi reactor could not have triggered off a regional war and the Israelis did not take any risks. Today the end may be different.

It seems that Tehran is dying to become a victim, not an aggressor, and Israeli bombing will only play into its hand. But will Israel want to start a new regional war?

The victory of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) at the Palestinian parliamentary elections placed Israel at a great advantage in the world arena. Many nations view Hamas as a terrorist organization and nobody demands that Israel should talk with it. For the first time in many years, the world community does not subject Israel to any pressure. It is not being forced into concessions or arm-twisting peace agreements. It would make sense to deflect the attention of the world community to Iran if the situation in the zone of Palestinian-Israeli conflict was to Israel's detriment, but this is not the case now.

Besides, when Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin ordered the destruction of the Iraqi reactor in 1981, he was not only guided by national security interests but was also thinking about the election race, which did not hold much promise for his Likud party. A successful military action contributed to his victory at the parliamentary elections. As distinct from Begin, the current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert does not need reverberating actions - the elections have just been held, a government coalition formed, and there exist a host of domestic problems requiring his attention.

Moreover, Olmert promised his electors to establish Israel's permanent frontiers by the year 2010, and this will become a very difficult task without international support. He is therefore not likely to act in Iran at his own risk. As one of the oldest Israeli politicians Shimon Peres said recently, the best option for the Jewish state would be to give initiative in the Iranian issue to the U.S. and other world leaders, and to limit its role to reminding about the serious nature of the problem.

Therefore, the Israelis are unlikely to risk bombing Iran without the consent or request of the U.S. It is highly dubious that the U.S. may be interested in an armed conflict involving Israel. This would drastically change the key points which Washington is trying to highlight in the Middle East, and will be to its detriment.

The majority of people in the Middle East - from princes to paupers - believe that actions of the U.S. and Israel are inseparably united. Nobody doubts that in the region Washington is guided by Israeli interests. Israel's open interference in the conflict with Iran would bring to naught all efforts of U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East and deprive it of its "messianic" mission. This is why it is highly dubious that the Israelis will be the first to attack Tehran. There is one more point. There has been talk about potential Israeli bombing of Iranian nuclear installations for many years now, but it has not taken place. The Israelis have never believed in the world's ability to settle the Iranian nuclear issue diplomatically. In that case, why have they still not acted the same as in Iraq? Is the world situation unfavorable? Do they lack intelligence information, or a technical capability? Or is it because the Iranian threat is not as great?

Supplies of Russian air defense systems are making it more difficult to strike at Iranian nuclear facilities, but for the time being it is enough for Israel that the whole world, Tehran included, knows about its ability to defend itself and resist any threat. It does not have to go into action to prove this, at least for now...

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