DEBKAfile Special Report July 31, 2012, 9:51 PM (GMT+02:00)
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday, July 31, that he hasn’t yet reached a decision on attacking Iran. He then went on to say, “The ayatollahs have inscribed Israel’s destruction on their banner” and stressed his personal commitment “not to permit Israel to come under Iranian atomic threat.”Netanyahu spoke shortly before US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said upon landing in Israel: “I think it's the wrong characterization to say we are going to be discussing potential attack plans. What we are discussing are various contingencies and how we would respond.”
During his brief Israel stay as part of a Middle East tour, Secretary Panetta will hold talks with the prime minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, which he said would be about “the threat that we're confronting and to try to share both information and intelligence on that."
When the prime minister was asked by interviewers why it was in Israel's interest to lead the assault on Iran, the prime minister said no one would be happier than he to see other world nations, especially the United States, solving the Iranian nuclear problem by means of economic and other pressure. But, he said, Israel has always been guided by the principle of never devolving its destiny to others, especially when it was a matter of surival. He quoted US President Barack Obama’s assertion that Israel has the right to act in its own defense.
Asked about preventing Syria’s chemical weapons from reaching terrorist hands, such as Hizballah, the prime minister replied that he is not looking for a military operation, but not precluding one either.
Netanyahu’s interviews Tuesday night to a wide range of Israeli media were aimed at clarifying his new economic program of tax hikes and spending cuts in the face of critics.
Earlier, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz took angry issue with a campaign some Israeli media were conducting against a preemptive attack on Iran’s nuclear program by claiming that a whole range of security officials were against it, including the IDF chief.
“None of those reports come from me or represent my views,” he said, while inspecting a new intake of gunners and home defense recruits. “Iran is the only country in the world which is building a nuclear weapon capacity while threatening at the same time to destroy another country. That is a grim problem for the world and the region which we dare not ignore.”
Lt. Gen. Gantz added: “For me, ‘all options on the table’ is not a slogan but a working program.”