Barak and Bibi United, and Militant, Against Iran

The indispensable Aluf Benn, on what is really going on inside the Israeli government, vis-a-vis Iran and much else:

The activist view against Iran unites Barak and Netanyahu and gives sense to their shared place in the country's leadership. Bolstered by the incoming chief of staff, Yoav Galant, who is considered a supporter of their position, the prime minister and defense minister will seek to foil the Iranian nuclear program in their remaining time in office. Their move to offload the Labor ministers who opposed Barak sought to keep Barak in his defense minister's chair. Concerns that Barak may be forced to resign in April because of Labor's infighting have been lifted.

Without Barak by his side, Netanyahu would find it hard to advance aggressive moves on the Iranian front. Netanyahu has no military record that grants him supreme defense authority, as Ariel Sharon had. Only Barak, with his ranks and medals, his seniority as a former prime minister, can give Netanyahu this kind of backing.

Likud's senior defense figure, former Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon, is considered a moderate on the Iranian issue, as is Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who more than anyone symbolizes the right in the right-wing government. Netanyahu cannot overcome their opposition without the defense minister's definitive analyses, accompanied by his circular hand motions.

The press conference of former Mossad chief Meir Dagan undermined the view of Barak and Netanyahu: If the timetable for an Iranian bomb has been pushed back to 2015, there is no need to send the bombers to Natanz this year. But they have not given in. Barak's political-security chief at the Defense Ministry, Amos Gilad, was quick to warn that the Iranian timetable is even shorter, and Dagan took back some of his statements yesterday at the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, apparently under pressure by the prime minister.
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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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