Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

April 20, 2009


Haaretz, Israel - The timing of Saturday's Times of London article, which claimed that the Israel Defense Forces is training for an attack on Iran on very short notice, is certainly no coincidence. Israel is trying to make clear that even though the United States plans to begin a diplomatic dialogue with Iran, it holds a realistic military option against Tehran's nuclear program. Without a deal that assuages Israel's concerns, there may be no other choice but to attack. . .

Most senior defense figures believe that nothing positive will result from the dialogue between Washington and Tehran. They also acknowledge that Israel's ability to influence the talks is very low and that it would be best for Israel not to be seen as obstructing efforts to resolve the confrontation with Iran peacefully. However, the defense establishment is continuing with its preparations for an attack, as well as its signals to the international community and Iran that the plan is serious and feasible.

There appears to be also an American effort to link an operation against Iran with a more favorable approach by Israel to peace with the Palestinians. An article in Yedioth Ahronoth last week suggested that the United States is hinting that its willingness to attack Iran (or permit Israel to do so) will be directly related to the Netanyahu government's flexibility on issues such as evacuating settlements, pullbacks from the West Bank and progress on a peace accord with the Palestinian Authority.

It's too soon to tell if this is a trial balloon from Washington or a clear position. But even if the dialogue with Tehran fails, senior IDF officers doubt whether the United States will allow Israel to go ahead with an offensive operation. . .


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