I am sure that U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is right when he says that Israel has not yet made up its mind about whether or not to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. The question is – What will most likely be the determining factor in the mind of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu?
In my assessment the answer is as obvious as the fact that Israel’s political and military leaders are not remotely interested in peace accept on their own terms – terms which require a complete Palestinian surrender to Zionism’s will.
The quickest way to the answer is via another question. What is it, really, that Netanyahu is currently most concerned about?
Unless he is deluded to the point of clinical madness, he must know, despite what he asserts ad nauseam to the contrary, that even if Iran did possess nuclear weapons, it would never launch a first strike against Israel because to do so would guarantee Iran’s complete destruction. (It would, to coin a phrase, be “wiped off the map”). So in reality a nuclear-armed Iran would not pose a threat to Israel’s existence. The only real downside for Netanyahu and those who think like him is that an Iran which possessed nuclear weapons for deterrence would limit Israel’s ability to go on imposing its will on the entire region. That is, of course, a worry for Netanyahu, but it is not currently his biggest concern.
It is that Obama will defeat Romney and win a second term in the White House.
On the matter of the conflict in and over Palestine that became Israel my own understanding of the significance of a second term for any American president was clarified by Jimmy Carter in a conversation I had with him after he failed to secure a second term. He told me that any American president has only two windows of opportunity to break or try to break the Zionist lobby’s stranglehold on Congress. The first window is during the first nine months of his first term because after that the soliciting of funds for the mid-term elections begins. (Presidents don’t have to worry on their own account about funds for the mid-term elections, but with their approach no president can do or say anything that would cost his party seats in Congress). The second window of opportunity is the last year of his second term if he has one. In that year, because he can’t run for a third term, no president has a personal need for election campaign funds or organised votes.
That, almost certainly, explains two related things. The first is why Obama moved so quickly in his first term to try to get Israel to agree to a settlement freeze in order to re-start a real peace process. The second is why, after he was blocked by Netanyahu and the Zionist lobby’s stooges in Congress, pressing Israel to be serious about peace was off the Obama agenda for the rest of his first term.
Netanyahu’s real fear is that a second term Obama will put America’s own real interests first by negotiating an end to the nuclear crisis with Iran and then, perhaps not until the last year of his second term, using the leverage America has to oblige Israel to be serious about peace on terms the vast majority of Palestinians and most other Arabs and Muslims everywhere could accept.
In the context summarised very briefly above, it’s my view that the determining factor in Netanyahu’s mind will be his assessment, much closer to November than we now are, of the most likely outcome of the American election. If the day comes when he concludes that American Zionist and Christian fundamentalist money can’t buy the White House for Romney, that might very well be the day he persuades enough of his cabinet colleagues that they must bomb Iran without further delay.
At the present time Netanyahu has the comfort of knowing that if he does order an attack on Iran two or three weeks before the American election, Obama will have no choice but to back him even though war with Iran could have catastrophic consequences for America’s own best interests in the region and far beyond.