As the deadline for a decision draws nearer, the public pronouncements of Israel’s top officials and military have changed. After hawkish warnings about a possible strike earlier this year, their language of late has been more guarded and clues to their intentions more difficult to discern.
“The top of the government has gone into lockdown,” one official said. “Nobody is saying anything publicly. That in itself tells you a lot about where things stand.”
Last week Netanyahu pulled off a spectacular political surprise, creating a coalition of national unity and delaying elections which everyone believed were inevitable. The maneuver also led to speculation that the Israeli leader wanted a broad, strong government to lead a military campaign.
The inclusion of the Iranian-born former Israeli chief of staff and veteran soldier, Gen. Shaul Mofaz, in the coalition, fuelled that speculation – even though both Mofaz and Netanyahu deny that Iran was mentioned in the coalition negotiations.
“I think they have made a decision to attack,” said one senior Israeli figure with close ties to the leadership. “It is going to happen. The window of opportunity is before the U.S. presidential election in November. This way they will bounce the Americans into supporting them.”