LAST Friday, on the morning after the P5+1 group of world powers and Iran announced a framework for a nuclear agreement in Lausanne, Israeli tabloid Yisrael Hayom carried a rare interview with military planning chief Major General Nimrod Shefer. The interview had been conducted before the deal was reached in Switzerland but under the assumption one would be agreed. Mr Shefer, a combat pilot, made it clear that if Israel felt it was facing an Iran about to develop a nuclear weapon, it would feel free to attack: just as it bombed nuclear reactors in Iraq in 1981 and in Syria in 2007.
Yisrael Hayom is a freesheet owned by Sheldon Adelson, a casino mogul and supporter of Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister. Its headlines are routinely approved by the prime minister’s office. The major-general’s quotes were an instinctive response to the deal which Mr Netanyahu says “would threaten the survival of Israel” and “would not block Iran’s path to the bomb [but] would pave it.” But these not-so-veiled threats, which seem to suggest that senior Israeli defence officials are willing to put the option of a strike on Iran’s nuclear installations back on the table, failed to impress many people in a diplomatic conversation which has been reshaped by the deal.
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