"If I were an Iranian, I would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks," former Mossad Chief Efraim Halevy was quoted by the New York Times as saying Thursday, in reference to a possible strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.
The comment was made against recent assessments by American officials that the United States sees 18 months before the Islamic Republic's nuclear weapons program reaches "a critical stage"; as well as the growing concern in Washington that Israel will choose to mount an independent military strike against Iran.
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According to the report, Halevy based his assumption on Israel's aversion of winter battles, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's fears of dwindling support should US President Barack Obama be elected for a second term and the fact that should GOP candidate Mitt Romney be elected president, he is likely to shy away from starting his term in office with a war.
The report further quoted US officials as saying that "Israeli officials are less confrontational in private… PM Netanyahu understands the consequences of military action for Israel, the United States and the region."
"The more the Israelis threaten, the more we respond by showing them that we will take care of the problem if it comes to that," Martin Indyk, a former American ambassador to Israel and director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, said.
Several top US defense officials have visited Israel over the past few weeks including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
"The visitors are actually babysitters, trying to make sure the unpredictable kids do not misbehave," Efraim Inbar, the director of the Begin-Sadat Institute for Strategic Studies, said.
David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told the newspaper that "Israel’s longstanding doctrine of self-reliance makes American promises to act later if all else fails less effective."
According to Makovsky," Israel needs to "believe that it's not two minutes to midnight. If Israel is so convinced that its window of action is shutting, then maybe you try to enlarge Israel's window. You say, 'Here, we know there are some things you need. But we don’t want you to use them until several months ahead.'"
Washington is "eager to prevent an Israeli attack" on Iran, both to avoid a major foreign policy crisis during the presidential campaign and for fear that such a strike could set off the volatile Mideast region.
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