The Israeli people have hardly begun to vote and already Netanyahu is ramping up the rhetoric for a confrontation with Iran.
In a meeting with several US congressmen over the weekend Netanyahu told them that settlements in the West Bank aren’t the problem; Iran is. He told them that “History will not forgive those that do not stop Iran”.
While Netanyahu is destined to win the election with a reduced number of Likud members in the Knesset, his likely coalition partners who are even further to right than Netanyahu, are unlikely to allow Netanyahu to submit to US pressure to restart talks with the Palestinians. They are also likely to back Netanyahu’s call for an attack on Iran.
With an extreme right-wing coalition in power, the likelihood of Netanyahu risking launching a pre-emptive unilateral strike against Iran is greatly increased. He will be banking on the US reluctantly joining in on the basis that the US will see it as fait accompli despite being averse to being a partner in launching a joint strike against Iran. After the initial strike, the US will take over the attack using its resources already in the Gulf while Israel withdraws to attack Hezbollah and Hamas closer to home on the pretext that they are preventing retaliatory attacks from Hezbollah and Hamas. This is likely to include the invasion and occupation of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and possibly south Lebanon.
After the election and the formation of a new Israeli coalition government, we can expect the rhetoric to increase.