Israel’s Octet: Meet the Men Who Will Decide on Iran Strike
by Lakkana Nanayakkara
On March 9th, The Daily Beast published an article entitled “Meet the Israeli ‘Octet’ That Would Decide an Iran Attack”. It described the makeup of Israel’s security cabinet, which would be instrumental in approving a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Out of Israel’s 30 cabinet ministers, 15 serve on the national-security committee and only 8 of them belong to the informal “security cabinet”. They are the leaders in the current coalition government and these eight individuals are known as the “Octet”.
The Algemeiner presents a snapshot of each of these individuals, their professional backgrounds and their past statements vis a vis Iran, providing insight into where the group stands collectively on Iran.
Netanyahu is the current Prime Minister of Israel. He was a team leader in the Sayeret Matkal special forces unit and previously served as Foreign Minister and Finance Minister of Israel. He is the brother of Israeli Special Forces commander Yonatan Netanyahu, who died during Operation Entebbe, in July of 1976. The operation saved 102 hostages taken by Palestinian and German terrorists.
Netanyahu has made an innumerable amount of statements on Iran’s nuclear program but the following statements are all from 2012.
“The Jewish state will not allow those who seek our destruction, the means to achieve that goal. A nuclear armed Iran must be stopped”
“We’ve waited for diplomacy to work, we’ve waited for sanctions to work, none of us can afford to wait much longer”
“As Prime Minister of Israel, I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation”
Netanyahu also said regarding the United States, “We deeply appreciate the great alliance between our two countries. But when it comes to Israel’s survival, we must always remain the masters of our fate.”
Regarding a potential strike on Iran, Yishai is quoted as saying in November, 2011, “This strike is complex and intricate, and it is best not to talk about how complex and intricate it is” and “This operation leaves me sleepless.”
Barak is a member of the Labor party, a former Prime Minister and is the current Defense Minister. In January of 2012, Barak warned that Iran could enter its “immunity zone” within a year after which an attack could not derail its nuclear project.
He is reported to have said in September of 2009, “I am not among those who believe Iran is an existential issue for Israel.”
He also made the following comments in February, 2012:
“We’re still in the sanctions stage and we expect them to become even more tight”
“I think there is consensus in most capitals of the world that Iran should not be allowed to turn into a nuclear military power”
Meridor is a Deputy Prime Minister and a member of the Likud party. He is also the Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy.
In October, 2011 Meridor said “… a nuclear Iran is a grave danger and the whole world, led by the United States, must make constant efforts to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.”
In November of 2011, regarding a mysterious blast in Iran, Meridor said “Not every explosion over there should be tied to reconnaissance and stories from the movies” and “there are countries who impose economic sanctions and there are countries who act in other ways.”
He also said on April 10th, 2011, “…the world needs to act so that the world order is not totally undermined by an Iranian nuclear capability as well as its possible hegemony within the Muslim world.”
Ya’alon is a former IDF Chief-of-Staff and a current a member of Likud, serving as the Minister of Strategic Affairs and a Deputy Prime Minister. Referring to the threat from Iran, on January 18th, 2012 he said, “Our policy is that in one way or another, Iran’s nuclear program must be stopped” and “… Israel has to be ready to defend itself. And we are prepared to defend ourselves in any way and anywhere that we see fit.”
He told Israel radio on January 15, 2012, “…Congress had shown itself determined to place tougher sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program, the Obama administration ‘appears more hesitant out of fear that oil prices might rise’.”
In November of 2011, he is quoted as saying, “Israel should give international sanctions on Iran more time, and that if military action did become necessary, it would be better for America to do it. Under no circumstances would Israel conduct such an operation on its own.”
Following comments by Meir Dagan, former head of Mossad, in August of 2011, where he “…repeatedly warned against launching airstrikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities,” Begin described Dagan’s statement as “…despicable” and “a dangerous breach of trust verging on megalomania”.
Steinitz has a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Tel Aviv University and was a senior lecturer in the philosophy department at Haifa University. He is a member of Likud and the current Finance Minister.
Steinitz predicted in February, 2012, that Iranian inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) could “reach the east coast of the United States in two to three years.”
In 2007, he said Iran’s nuclear program can be stopped by military force and believes Iran’s nuclear facilities are vulnerable to attack despite Iran spending billions of dollars on anti-aircraft defenses.
Lieberman was born in Moldova and immigrated to Israel in 1978. He is a Deputy Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party. Lieberman had said in March of 2012 that Israel will not be affected by U.S. pressure and will act independently regarding the threat from Iran.
He also made the following statements in 2011:
“…Iran poses the largest, most dangerous threat to the current world order” and that Israel expects the international community to “step up efforts to act against” Iran.
He is quoted as saying, “The international community must prove its ability to make decisions and enforce tough sanctions on Iran’s central bank as well as halt the purchasing of oil.”