Friday, May 17, 2019

Israel Presses the Case Against Iran, but Not for War

JERUSALEM — Israel has been providing Washington with intelligence about potential Iranian attacks. Its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has made Iran’s strategic ambitions an obsession. And as recently as February he floated the idea of war with Iran.

But analysts and former Israeli military and intelligence officials say the Israeli government is not angling for a full-blown war between the United States and Iran. Such a war, Israeli officials fear, could plunge Israel into a mutually destructive conflagration with Iran’s ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah.

The insistent pressure on Iran, analysts said, is instead aimed at either forcing Iran to agree to a nuclear deal far stricter than the existing one, or creating conditions dire enough for fed-up Iranians to overthrow their government.

[In the Middle East, fears that the Trump administration is building a flawed case for conflict.]

“Nobody thinks about regime change militarily, but to weaken the regime, to weaken the Iranian economy, and to make the people of Iran change the regime — this is, I think, the ultimate goal,” said Amos Yadlin, a retired head of Israeli military intelligence who runs the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. “Another very positive result is a better agreement.”

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