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February 17, 2011 3:58 pm

Opinion: Odds Are Israel Won’t Attack Iran

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Foreign Policy – “You don’t want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a journalist in 2009, in reference to Iran’s nuclear program. He wasn’t the first or last Israeli official to use such inflammatory rhetoric. References to Iran as an existential threat or to the country’s nuclear program as raising the specter of another Holocaust have been typical among Israeli officials. But on a recent research trip to Israel, we heard surprisingly little anxiety. No official spoke about a threshold beyond which Iran’s program would be unstoppable — a deadline that in the past was always one year off. And elites across the political spectrum for now favor sanctions and covert action, rather than military force, to deter Iran. As a result, the chance of Israeli strikes in the next eighteen months is very low.

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