SPECULATION GROWING ABOUT POSSIBLE ISRAELI FIRST STRIKE AGAINST IRAN: Netanyahu warns Israeli parliament about Iran nuclear threat, says “a security philosophy cannot rely on defense alone.”

Israeli PM Netanyahu speaking before the Knesset on Oct. 31, 2011.

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UPDATED: Speculation in Washington and the Middle East is suddenly intensifying in recent days about a possible Israeli preemptive military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. This is in part because Iran is getting closer to building nuclear warheads, in part because of remarks Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to the Knesset on Monday about the Iran threat, in part because former Vice President Dick Cheney recently speculated about an Israeli first strike, and in part because the Obama administration is publicly pressuring Israel not to hit first.

On Wednesday morning, the Drudge Report posted two articles on how Prime Minister Netanyahu is mulling preemptive strikes on Iran and the Obama administration is pressuring Israel not to hit first:

“If I had to summarize what will happen in our region, I would use two terms: instability and uncertainty,” Netanyahu told his parliamentary colleagues Monday. “The collapse of Gaddafi’s regime in Libya, the bloody incidents in Syria, the American forces leaving Iraq, the new government in Tunisia, the upcoming elections in Egypt and many other events – these are all expressions of the immense changes occurring around us. These changes can increase the instability within these countries, and the instability between countries….A nuclear Iran would pose a terrible threat on the Middle East and on the entire world. And of course, it poses a great, direct threat on us too….A security philosophy cannot rely on defense alone. It must also include offensive capabilities, which is the very foundation of deterrence. We operate and will continue to operate intensely and determinately against those who threaten the security of the State of Israel and its citizens. Our policy is guided by two main principles: the first is ‘if someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first,’ and the second is ‘if anyone harms us, his blood is on his own hands.'”

I’ve never heard Netanyahu discuss those two principles before — they certainly lay the moral and strategic framework for preemptive military action, both against the Hamas terrorists that are firing rockets and missiles at Israel from Gaza, and against state enemies such as Iran.

Then came these headlines:

Such developments echo major plot points in my new political thriller, The Tehran Initiative, but this is not fiction. Could a major new war in the region be coming later this year, or early next? It’s too early to say, but there is little question that senior Israeli officials are now actively weighing such an option, or that the Obama administration is deeply opposed. What would a Republican president do differently that President Obama to neutralize the Iran threat? That remains to be seen as none of the GOP contenders has yet offered a major policy address focused on the Iran issue.

UPDATEHaaretz headline on Nov. 2: Netanyahu trying to persuade cabinet to support attack on Iran; Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who previously objected to attacking Iran, was recently persuaded by Netanyahu and Barak to support such a move

UPDATE — Ynet headline on Nov. 2: Minister Begin: Public debate on strike in Iran ‘madness’ — Member of special security cabinet says ‘irresponsible public debate’ on Israel’s options vis-à-vis Iran impeded government’s ability on the matter

Meanwhile, there is a growing possibility of a major Israeli military offensive against Hamas in Gaza, too. More than three dozen rockets and missiles have been fired at southern Israel since Friday from Gaza, and Netanyahu aides say the situation has become intolerable and a “dramatic decision is nearing.”


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