Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu used an interview on Tuesday with Israel’s major television channels, Channel 2 and Channel 10, to reiterate that he will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.
In the Channel 2 interview, Netanyahu responded to reports that he has already decided to attack Iran, despite the opposition of senior defense officials.
“I appreciate the chief of staff, the head of the Mossad and the head of the Shin Bet enough to hear their predictions where they should be heard: behind closed doors. Not in the media,” he said, adding, “Discussion in the media is not responsible and undermines the State. The question is fundamental and important: In Israeli democracy – and in any democracy – the political echelon makes the decision and the operational echelon carries it out. This is the way it has always been and the way it always will be, too. I have not yet made a decision [on Iran.]”
However, Netanyahu made a veiled reference to his desire to act to prevent a nuclear Iran, saying, “To illustrate: in 1981, [then Prime Minister] Begin made a decision to attack the reactor in Iraq. Senior defense officials strongly opposed the decision, but it was clear that it would be the political leadership who would decide. The same principle which was in effect back then is in effect now too. I have not yet made a decision whether to attack, but I see the Ayatollah regime declaring its intention to destroy us. They are making atomic bombs to destroy us, and I will not let it happen.”
Referring to the international community's opposition to an attack on Iran, he said, “I would love it if the world and the United States carry out this task. I’ve gathered quite a bit of support in the international community to pressure Iran. This pressure affects the Iranian economy, but hasn’t moved their nuclear program even one meter backwards. If they (the international community) do it - all the better. We do not entrust in others things concerning our destiny and our existence, not even in the best of our friends. Obama and Romney said that Israel has a right to defend itself against any threat - and we must be the ones to make the decisions about our fate and our future.”
Netanyahu also spoke about the latest economic measures approved by the Cabinet, which include raising the VAT and the income tax. He told Channel 10 that the rise in the taxes is being done sparingly and is not like the tax increases seen in Europe.
“We are handling ourselves in the right manner, responsibly and on time,” he said. “When everyone will realize we have to do what I’m doing now, it will be too late. We’ll already be in the pit.”
Netanyahu added that the raise in the taxes is relatively low. “I lowered taxes, now I’m bringing them up slightly to cover the gap,” he explained, noting that the increase in the VAT is a small part of the economic measures and that most of the money will be taken from other sources, such as a surtax on wealthier residents.
“We did many things for the middle class,” he told Channel 2. “We declared that there would be free education from the age of three, brought about a reduction in cellular tariffs, added to the salaries of doctors, policemen and many others. The main issue is not the spending, of which we need to cut a rather small amount, but the revenues of the State.”