Amidst a flurry of recent reports regarding a possible Israeli attack against Iran, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday that he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have not already decided that Israel will conduct such a strike.
"It does not take a genius to understand that in Israel in 2011 two people cannot decide to do something on their own," Barak said in an interview on Army Radio. "That may have been appropriate in Israel in 2006. In the Defense Ministry, there are thousands of pages of discussion on this subject, in the presence of dozens of ministers, military personnel and experts."
Regarding the question as to why there was no public debate on a matter so fateful to Israel, Barak said, "the Iranian nuclear program has been publicly debated for years in Israel. There are countless interviews and public debates. We do not conceal our thoughts. However, there are operational matters that we do not discuss publicly, as that would make them impossible to carry out."
Barak reiterated that Iran poses a threat to stability in the Middle East and the world. He said that all options are on the table in terms of dealing with Iran.
"I think that one has to use diplomatic pressure and sanctions on Iran," Barak said.
He added that Iran has been a central issue that Israeli leaders have discussed with other world leaders in recent years.
"There is great convergence between us and the Americans regarding the diagnosis and the characterization of the situation in Iran," Barak said. "We know the Iranian leadership's goals, its determination and how it evades the world. We know what happened in Pakistan, we know what happened in North Korea and we see the immunity they have because of it. One should ask: Would Europe have intervened in Libya if Gadhafi had possessed nuclear weapons? Would the U.S. have toppled Saddam Hussein if he had nuclear weapons?"
Barak said that the Israeli public should not be concerned about the Iranian threat.
"I refuse to be intimidated, as if Iran could destroy Israel, " Barak said. "Israel is the most powerful country, from Tripoli to Tehran. There is no reason to be afraid of anything."
Also in the interview, Barak denied that Israel had negotiated a cease-fire with Islamic Jihad following the violence in southern Israel and the Gaza Strip in recent days. He also said that he views Hamas as responsible for all that occurs in Gaza.