War appears to have been Netanyahu’s objective from the get-go.
Despite talks between Iran and West, senior officers tell MKs 10b shekels ($2.9b) allocated to IDF to prepare for possible attack.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon have ordered the army to continue preparing for a possible military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities at a cost of at least 10 billion shekels ($2.89 billion) this year, despite the talks between Iran and the West, according to recent statements by senior military officers.
Three Knesset members who were present at Knesset joint committee hearings on Israel Defense Forces plans that were held in January and February say they learned during the hearings that 10 billion shekels to 12 billion shekels of the defense budget would be allocated this year for preparations for a strike on Iran, approximately the same amount that was allocated in 2013.
Some MKs asked the army’s deputy chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, and planning directorate official Brig. Gen. Agai Yehezkel whether they felt there was justification for investing so much money in those preparations, said the MKs present at the meetings, who asked that their names be withheld because of the sensitivity of the issue. They said some lawmakers also asked whether the interim agreement reached between Iran and the six powers in November 2013, and the ongoing negotiations for a full nuclear accord, had caused any change in the IDF’s preparations.
The IDF representatives said the army had received a clear directive from government officials from the political echelon – meaning Netanyahu and Ya’alon – to continue readying for a possible independent strike by Israel on the Iranian nuclear sites, regardless of the talks now happening between Iran and the West, the three MKs said.
Ever since the interim accord between Iran and the six powers was reached, Netanyahu has stressed that Israel will not consider itself bound by it. In the last few weeks, as talks on a permanent accord have resumed, Netanyahu has upped his rhetoric on the Iranian issue, and is again making implied threats about a possible unilateral Israeli strike on the Iranian nuclear sites.
Ya’alon recently indicated during a speech at Tel Aviv University that his view has shifed and he is now likely to support a unilateral Israeli strike on Iran, in light of his assessment that the Obama administration will not do so;
“We think that the United States should be the one leading the campaign against Iran,” Ya’alon said this week. “But the U.S. has entered talks with them and unfortunately, in the haggling in the Persian bazaar, the Iranians were better… Therefore, on this matter, we have to behave as though we have nobody to look out for us but ourselves.”