After spending a generation in and out of power calling for war with Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been inconsolable about the news of a nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran, which seemingly puts the kibosh on the scheme. Today, one of his former defense ministers reveals how many times Netanyahu almost started that war.
The revelations were made in tape recordings released by Israel’s Channel 2, which cited then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak claiming Netanyahu was about to attack Iran either in 2009 or 2010, but that current Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz “got cold feet” and cost Netanyahu the cabinet majority he needed for such an attack.
By January 2012, the tape recordings claim Netanyahu was ready to try it again, but backed off the plan after he found out it coincided with the Austere Challenge, the largest join US-Israeli military drill ever. That really threw a monkey wrench in the plan.
Barak claims he approached former US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to try to get the date of the drill changed to accommodate the war, but the dates Panetta offered wouldn’t be convenient for the conflict, so the Israeli cabinet dropped the matter for the time being.
Though Netanyahu continues to threaten to attack Iran on a near-daily basis, the threats are seen as less and less credible as time goes on, and the nuclear deal would ensure Israel would be a pariah state if they unilaterally attacked Iran now.
Barak did not dispute the authenticity of the recordings but expressed outrage that they were publicly released. Israel’s military censor, which has to clear all news published by Israeli media outlets, approved the release, however, so Barak has little recourse.