Amid several bellicose comments about the possibility of an impending Israeli strike against Iran Israeli Defense Ministry officials say they have been contacted by US officials who have asked them to refrain from launching any attacks against Iran until after President-elect Barack Obama takes office in January. Likewise, the officials reportedly have cautioned Israel not to launch its long-reported ground invasion of the Gaza Strip until after the inauguration.
An Israeli attack on Iran would almost certainly be interpreted as an American attack, and would likely spark a broad war between Iran and the United States. That prospect, with less than two months before the administration change and President Bush keeping a close eye on his legacy, seems unappealing.
The Israeli military insists that, despite reports to the contrary, it has no intentions of launching a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip any time soon. On the other hand Israel’s elections are scheduled for early February, and with the hawkish opposition Likud Party leading in the polls the outgoing government might gamble on its ability to reap political advantage from a dramatic move on one or both fronts.