February 23, 20112
Israeli President Shimon Peres will tell Obama early next month that he believes his country should not launch an attack on Iran in response to its nuclear program, Haaretz reports.
Peres said the Israeli government should not engage in “unnecessary warmongering” and the issue should fall on the United States and the superpowers.
Peres will meet with Obama a day before Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who will arrive in the United States following a visit to Canada. “When Obama meets with Netanyahu, he will already know what Peres thinks – information he will use in his meeting with Netanyahu,” writes Yossi Verter.
“High level sources in Israel have just leaked a sanitized version of the President’s plan to the Israeli press,” writes Michael Carmichael. “But, there is much more to the story. In his meeting at the White House, Peres will inform Obama that Netanyahu has performed poorly in his handling of the Iran nuclear crisis and that bellicose statements from the Prime Minister’s cabinet have been both self-intimidating and self-destructive.”
Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman have pushed hard for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities and the possible backing down indicated by Peres comes as a serious loss of face.
Lieberman, however, is unwilling to concede defeat. He said in an interview yesterday that Israel will not bow to U.S. and Russian pressure in deciding whether to attack Iran. He told Israeli television the attack “is not their business.”
Earlier this month, Obama reportedly convinced Netanyahu to allow some time for sanctions to work against Iran. “I don’t think that Israel has made a decision on what they need to do. I think they, like us, believe that Iran has to stand down on its nuclear weapons program,” Obama said.