Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan said Monday that a military strike on Iran was “far from being Israel’s preferred option,” telling the Council for Peace and Security that “there are currently tools and methods that are much more effective.”
Dagan also said Iran’s nuclear program was still far from the point of no return, and that Iran’s situation is “the most problematic it has been in since the revolution” in 1979.
But Israel’s strategic situation is also “the worst in its history,” he warned, adding that Israel itself has contributed a lot to this deterioration. As an example, he cited Deputy
Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon’s decision to humiliate the Turkish ambassador last year by demonstratively seating him on a low chair.
Dagan made his remarks on the same day that visiting U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta passed on a clear message from his boss in Washington: The United States opposes any Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
At a joint press conference with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Panetta stressed that any steps against Iran’s nuclear program must be taken in coordination with the international community.
The United States, he said, is “very concerned, and we will work together to do whatever is necessary” to keep Iran from posing “a threat to this region.” But doing so “depends on the countries working together,” he added.
He repeated the word “together” several times in this context.
Panetta cited Iran’s nuclear program as number one on the list of issues he had discussed with Barak. He voiced concern not only about the nuclear program, but also about Iran’s support for terror, its efforts to undermine regional stability and the fact that it had supplied weapons that were used to kill American soldiers.
At the press conference, which took place at Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, Panetta also stressed America’s deep commitment to Israel’s security.
His message for Barak, at their second meeting in two weeks, appeared to be simultaneously embrace and restrain: America is standing by Israel, but an uncoordinated Israeli strike on Iran could spark a regional war. The United States will work to defend Israel, but Israel must behave responsibly.