Lieberman Denounces Public Statements on Iran as 'Harmful'

Foreign Minister says any discussions on possible strike on Iran must remain in limited forums; Peres reportedly due to tell Obama that Israel should not attack Iran in near future.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Thursday that public statements on the Iranian issue are harmful and damaging.

While meeting in Jerusalem with members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Lieberman stressed that "public comments on Iran are unnecessary and harmful."

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
Tomer Appelbaum

"The discussions and decisions on Iran must be left for the appropriate forums," Lieberman said.

Earlier Thursday, Haaretz reported that President Shimon Peres is expected to tell U.S. President Barack Obama early next montht hat he does not believe Israel should attack Iran in the near future.

According to these officials, Peres is close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's position on Iran, while Defense Minister Ehud Barak is perceived, at least by the Americans, as pushing for an attack.

Peres told officials that there is no point in what he called the "unceasing self-intimidation" being voiced by senior Israeli spokesmen. This is what he intends to tell Obama.

Moreover, on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and other senior officials protested to the United States that recent comments by senior American officials critical of an Israeli attack on Israel serves Iran's interests.

A senior Israeli official said Netanyahu and Barak told Tom Donilon, U.S. national security adviser who visited Israel last week, of their dissatisfaction with the interview given by Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, to CNN on Sunday.

Dempsey said "I don't think a wise thing at this moment is for Israel to launch a military attack on Iran," and a strike "would be destabilizing" and "not prudent."
Dempsey said the United States has so far not been able to persuade Israel not to attack Iran. "I wouldn't suggest that we've persuaded them that our view is the correct view," he said.

The Israeli officials also objected to a number of briefings senior American officials gave American correspondents, who wrote in recent weeks about a possible Israeli attack in Iran.

The story that angered Netanyahu most was an NBC broadcast two weeks ago saying Israel would attack Iran's nuclear facilities with Jericho missiles, commando forces and F-151 jets.

"We made it clear to Donilon that all those statements and briefings only served the Iranians," a senior Israeli official said. "The Iranians see there's controversy between the United States and Israel, and that the Americans object to a military act. That reduces the pressure on them.