Two top Israeli security officials said Wednesday that the prospect of early national elections will have no influence over a decision over whether to strike Iranian nuclear sites.
Some say Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is unlikely to risk his reelection by striking Iran. The Iran issue could also lead to a divisive campaign.
Israel'smove toward early elections is the latest sign that its threatened attack against Iran's nuclear facilities is unlikely to take place in the coming months.
The Israeli military said Wednesday it has closed its investigation into the shelling deaths of 21 members of a single Palestinian family and would not file any charges in what was one of the gravest incidents in the 2009 war in the Gaza Strip.
The military's move, which exonerates Israeli soldiers from any responsibility in the killings, outraged relatives of the killed Palestinians and the Israeli human rights group that had pressed for the investigation. They said the findings proved the army is not capable of investigating the conduct of its soldiers.
Longtime grasshoppers know I've been skeptical about Israel actually
carrying through on threats to strike Iran in an attempt to
degrade the Iranian nuclear weapons program
"We are talking about a crime against civilians," said Salah Samouni, 34, whose 2-year-old daughter was killed when Israeli shells slammed into the Gaza City house where the family had gathered.
Though no final decision has been made about moving up national elections slated for next year, the Knesset, or parliament, is talking about dissolving this month and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to announce as soon as next week an election date in September.
Some officials predict the chances of an Israeli airstrike against Iran will decrease because a divisive political campaign would paralyze the government and focus attention on domestic issues.
"He can't do anything before elections," said Knesset member Daniel Ben-Simon of the Labor Party. "He's a lame duck. Nothing will be decided before the vote."
Both Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon said in published comments on Wednesday that policy toward Iran will be based solely on strategic interests.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signaled this week that he may call parliamentary elections a year ahead of schedule, casting additional uncertainty over any Israeli military plans.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to announce as soon
as next week an election date in September.
Israel considers Iran a threat to its existence because of its nuclear and missile development programs, frequent reference to Israel's destruction by Iranian leaders and Iran's support of violent anti-Israel groups in Lebanon and Gaza.
Israel has been warning for years that Iran is trying to construct nuclear bombs. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
Echoing Barak's sentiments was Deputy Prime Minster Moshe Yaalon. "The election will not be a consideration in the Iranian issue. If we need to make decisions we will make them," he told the Maariv daily.
There has been a precedent to big military offensive prior to an election.