Israelis can breathe easy and put their gas masks back in the closet. There won’t be a war against Iran. Prime Minister Netanyahu announced this during his address before the UN General Assembly. Bibi yielded, for now, to the pressure applied by the US and the West regarding the Iranian nuclear crisis.
While only history will judge whether Netanyahu's capitulation served Israel's interests or harmed them, public opinion welcomes it. We do not want a row with the Americans and we do not want a war, now or anytime soon.
The conclusion from Netanyahu's capitulation speech is that there is no need for a military campaign against Iran as long as it does not stockpile close to 90% of the enriched uranium needed to build a nuclear bomb. No one can predict when this will happen.
Netanyahu's stance allows the Iranians to continue enriching uranium without any fear, but at a pace that will not bring them too close to the new 'red line.' The enrichment level is not important - 3%, 20% or 89%, it doesn't matter.
As far as Israel is concerned Iran can continue raising the purification levels as long as the final result is not a large a stockpile of enriched uranium.
Moreover, the Iranian nuclear industry is now permitted to hide in underground mountain bunkers. Last year Israel warned of this possibility and considered this development as a reason to go to war. But Netanyahu did not address this issue in his speech. It turns out that there is no need to attack in order to prevent Iran from moving its nuclear activity underground.
Netanyahu, it seems, has adopted the Obama administration's position (assuming that the speech was not meant to mislead Iranian and American intelligence agencies) according to which there is no need to strike Iran's nuclear sites before the Islamic Republic approached the new 'red line' – a significant stockpile of enriched uranium. Meanwhile, let the sanctions do their work, Bibi agreed.
The world's leaders got the message. In the words of a free Israeli daily newspaper: Bibi folded. President Obama praised him and the US Jewry heaved a sigh of relief.
But it is difficult to praise the prime minister on his zigzagging with regards to the Iranian issue, particularly when we are talking about someone whose entire method of governance is based on zigzagging and can easily change his mind yet again.
For the past year and a half Israel's citizens have been going to sleep at night thinking there is a chance that during the night the bombers will take off from their bases and we will wake up to the reality of a major war. And now, with a single stroke of a magic marker the Iranian threat has dissipated and been put off indefinitely.
In any case, it won't resurface before the summer of 2013, meaning after the presidential elections in Iran, and perhaps after early elections in Israel. They've been driving us all mad for nothing.
So what was the real purpose of the bomb sketch Bibi presented during his UN address? The declared goals (to draw attention to the threat; show resolve) do not coincide with the total ambiguity of the diagram, which did not indicate any practical commitment on Israel's part.
Maybe it was just a bad graphic presentation, as Netanyahu's associates claim. But it is also possible that by displaying the drawing Netanyahu wanted to blur the fact that he has withdrawn from most of the positions his government had adopted vis-à-vis the Iranian nuclear threat. If his goal was to confuse us, the Israelis, then he has succeeded.