An attack on Iran could take place within a matter of months, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a series of television interviews on Thursday.
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"We're not standing with a stopwatch in hand," he said. "It's not a matter of days or weeks, but also not of years. The result must be removal of the threat of nuclear weapons in Iran's hands."
Netanyahu gave separate interviews to all three Israeli television stations, the first he has given since his return from Washington earlier this week. The full interviews will air on Saturday night, but excerpts were broadcast Thursday.
"I hope there won't be a war at all, and that the pressure on Iran will succeed," the prime minister stressed, noting that his preferred choice would be for Iran to halt its nuclear program and dismantle the uranium enrichment facility located in an underground site near Qom. "That would make me happiest," he said. "I think every citizen of Israel would be happy."
"Making decisions isn't the problem; it's making the right decision," Netanyahu added. "If you don't make the decision and don't succeed in preventing this [an Iranian nuke], to whom will you explain this - to the historians? To the generations before you, and the generations that won't come after you?"
He also spoke about the departure of his former bureau chief, Natan Eshel, who was forced to resign over allegations of harassing a subordinate. "I had a connection with Natan Eshel, a connection going back many years," he said. "This is very painful for me personally, and you part ways humanely.
"On the other hand, what he did, or what he confessed to doing ... is very serious. This is a serious, inappropriate thing, and I condemn it."
Netanyahu insisted that he backs the three officials who informed the attorney general of the suspicions against Eshel: his military secretary, Maj. Gen. Yohanan Locker; Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser; and the former head of the National Information Directorate, Yoaz Hendel.
"Let there be no doubt: I also think the men who acted, acted rightly," he said. "They had to go complain about this."
Nevertheless, he added, his criticism of them for not informing him was justified: "In my opinion, I'm the head of the system, as prime minister, and they should have told me."