Israeli leadership denies divisions on Iran, after army chief made a stir
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak insisted that Iranian leaders are not rational, rebutting comments made earlier in the week by IDF chief Benny Gantz.
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Israeli leaders scrambled to present a united front on Iran yesterday, after Israel's army chief earlier this week appeared to contradict the government's assertions that Iran poses an imminent threat to Israel's existence.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Iranian leaders are not "rational in the Western sense of the word – connoting … the peaceful resolution of problems" and said that to believe anything different "borders on blindness or irresponsibility."
His comments, made on Israeli Independence Day to foreign diplomats, were seen as a direct rebuttal to remarks earlier this week from Israeli Defense Forces chief Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz. He said in an interview with Israeli newspaper Haaretz published Wednesday that he does not believe Iran is making a nuclear bomb yet and that it would probably not decide to do so because "the Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people."
An Israeli official told Reuters that Barak's briefing was meant to "set things straight" after Gantz's comments. Earlier this week, in an interview with CNN, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would not pin "the security of the world on Iran's rational behavior," saying Iranian leaders "can put their ideology before their survival."
The Netanyahu administration has consistently sought to portray Iran as an irrational actor, willing to risk "catastrophic retaliation." Such a portrayal could boost support for a preemptive military strike on Iran by Israel, according to Reuters.