Iran “threat” tops Netanyahu’s Goals List Ahead of Election

The Times of Israel reports on Bibi Netanyahu’s attempt to increase poll ratings ahead of the Jan. 22 Israeli election:

“Overcoming Iran’s nuclear threat is the main goal for the next term. There are other important goals, like blanketing the country with Iron Dome [missile defense systems], strengthening the economy by adding jobs and lowering the housing prices just like we lowered the cost of cellphones,” Netanyahu said. “But to achieve all these goals, I need a large ruling party behind me. Prime ministers in Israel, from [David] Ben-Gurion to [Menachem] Begin, made their important steps with large parties behind them. You can’t make serious decisions when you’re divided into factions.”

Last week, Yuval Diskin, a former head of Israel’s Shin Bet security service, said he distrusts Netanyahu’s motives with Iran in an interview with the leading Israeli newspaper, Yediot Aharonot:

“My colleagues and I were very unsure of whether Netanyahu and Barak can lead an Iranian campaign. We didn’t trust their motives. We were worried that they might pursue various moves that would compromise Israel based on irrelevant considerations or via underhanded ways. We had a feeling that they were trying to sneak something under the radar,” he said in the interview, published on Friday.

For now, Netanyahu seems to have somewhat toned down his aggressive campaign against Iran, which reignited ongoing speculation in 2012 that Israel may attack its long-time foe (despite the likely ineffectiveness of a lone attack). But as Jay Newton-Small reports, Washington is still receiving ultimatums from Israel:

Israeli Finance Minister Dr. Yuval Steinitz parachuted into Washington Monday for two days of meetings focusing mainly on Iran. Steinitz’s main message to the Obama Administration: it’s time to give Iran an ultimatum.

“They need something in addition to the sanction and in addition to the statements” made thus far by President Obama, Steinitz told reporters over breakfast at the Mayflower Hotel. “They need a credible ultimate, a credible threat. They are waiting for something like this to happen.”

Meanwhile, Israeli analyst Yossi Melman writes in Al-Monitor that Israel’s election promises little change for the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is a journalist based in Washington, DC.