Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued a direct challenge to the world, and implicitly to none less than President Barack Obama, not to demand from Israel to ignore the existential threat to its existence at the hands of an Iranian nuclear weapon.
Speaking at a press conference with visiting Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “Those in the international community who refuse to place red lines before Iran have no moral right to place a red line before Israel.”
He directly challenged Obama administration claims that economic sanctions are a sufficient deterrent for the time being.
“We can say for sure that diplomacy and sanctions have not worked. They have damaged the economy of Iran but have not stopped the Iranian nuclear program.
“If Iran knows that there are no red lines or deadlines, what will it do? Exactly what it does today – continuing to work to acquire a nuclear weapon without and interference.”
“The world tells Israel to wait because there is time, and I ask, 'Wait for what?'"
The Prime Minister’s remarks were a retort to comments from the White House and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Sunday and Monday that the United States will not place any redlines for Iran.
Some Israeli analysts told AFP that Netanyahu's public challenge to the White House actually could be an attempt to back off from plans for a unilateral strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.
"Netanyahu has decided that he won't attack before the (US) elections because it's politically impossible because of American opposition, and it's impossible because of opposition within the Israeli establishment," said Shlomo Brom of Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies.
"I think this is all intended to give Netanyahu a ladder with which to climb down from the tree," he added. "He's looking for a way to preserve his prestige, and the way Israeli leaders often do that is by convincing the Israeli public that they're not suckers," Brom said.
The disagreement between Washington and Jerusalem has sharpened and brought out into the open a sharp difference of opinion smack in the middle of the U.S. presidential campaign, in which President Obama is being forced to defend his foreign policy record as well as his attempts to turn around the “jobless growth” economy.
The latest polls have shown that Obama enjoys a bounce in his favor following the Democratic National Convention.
However, after the GOP convention Romney also surged ahead in the polls in what turned out to be a “dead cat bounce” which may turn out to be the same for Obama.