Referring to the Iran negotiations led by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany, the minister, Danny Ayalon, told Israel Radio that those nations should “declare today that the talks have failed.” After such a declaration, if Iran does not halt its nuclear program, “it will be clear that all options are on the table,” Mr. Ayalon said, not only for Israel, but also for the United States and NATO.
Asked how long the Iranians should be given to cease all nuclear activity, Mr. Ayalon said “weeks, and not more than that.”
The comments came after a frenzy of newspaper articles and television reports over the weekend here suggesting that Mr. Netanyahu had all but made the decision to attack Iran unilaterally this fall. The reports contained little new information, but the tone was significantly sharper than it had been in recent weeks, with many of Israel’s leading columnists predicting a strike despite the opposition of the Obama administration and many military and security professionals within Israel. Articles in Sunday’s newspapers also examined home-front preparedness for what experts expect would be an aggressive response not just from Iran but also its allies, the militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas.
“Lord help us, would you just do it already and be done with it?” wrote Ben Caspit, a columnist for the newspaper Maariv, referring to the Israeli leadership. “When one looks around the impression received is that it isn’t only in Israel that they aren’t being taken seriously any longer, but the world refuses to get worked up over them either.”
“Maybe they’ll bomb Iran in the end just to prove that they’re serious,” Mr. Caspit added.
Mr. Netanyahu and his top ministers have been saying for weeks that while the sanctions against Iran have hurt its economy, they have not affected the nuclear program, which Iran’s leadership insists is for civilian purposes. On Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom called on the United States to enact “even more extensive and even more comprehensive sanctions which could overwhelm the Iranian regime and possibly even topple it, or bring it to make the decision to abandon the nuclear program.”
The mixed messages from Mr. Shalom and Mr. Ayalon came two days after Mr. Netanyahu called Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general of the United Nations, and urged him not to go to Iran for a meeting scheduled for the end of this month of the so-called nonaligned nations (countries that were not allies of either the United States or the Soviet Union during the cold war).
“Even if it is not your intention, your visit will grant legitimacy to a regime that is the greatest threat to world peace and security,” Mr. Netanyahu told Mr. Ban, according to a statement released by his office Friday night. “Not only does it threaten countries throughout the Middle East, not only is it the greatest terrorism exporter in the world, but it is impossible to exaggerate the danger it presents to Israel.”
“Mr. Secretary General, your place is not in Tehran,” Mr. Netanyahu added.
At a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Mr. Netanyahu seemed to be trying to rebut the Israeli newspaper articles questioning domestic preparedness as he bid farewell to the current home-front defense minister, who is becoming ambassador to China.
“There has been a significant improvement in our home-front defense capabilities,” Mr. Netanyahu said, according to a transcript released by his office. “One cannot say that there are no problems in this field because there always are, but all of the threats that are currently being directed against the Israeli home front pale against a particular threat, different in scope, different in substance, and therefore I reiterate that Iran cannot be allowed to have nuclear weapons.”
sauce. israeli _p people, what's the vibe like domestically? this article feels really fucking bleak, but then it's the new york times and i don't actually trust that their foreign section isn't being used as propaganda when israel and iran are concerned.