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U.S. would join Israeli strike on Iran: American officials (2)

(Xinhua)

08:00, August 14, 2012

Israel's envoy to Washington Michael Oren has conveyed similar assessments to Jerusalem following discussions with diplomatic officials, as well as senior members of American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobby in Washington, which maintains regular contact with top officials on Capitol Hill, according to Ma'ariv.

The report comes amid a growing debate in Israel for and against a strike, with local media outlets either siding with or slamming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak's saber-rattling on the Iranian issue.

A poll published Sunday by Channel 10 TV showed that a larger number of Israelis -- 46 percent -- oppose a unilateral strike on Iran, without U.S. backing, while 32 percent are in favor.

The survey's results are in line with recent reports that Israel's top military leadership is vehemently opposed to the idea of a unilateral strike on Iran, citing fears that such an attack would likely spark a regional conflict with harsh repercussions.

But both Netanyahu and Barak have recently said that time is running out for international sanctions and diplomacy to convince Tehran to halt its disputed nuclear program, which Israel and much of the West believe is geared towards producing an atomic bomb, emphasizing that Israel will ultimately decide how to best defend itself against what it perceives as an existential threat.

Military commentators have said that among Netanyahu and Barak' s biggest dilemmas is launching a pre-emptive strike without the United States, in which case Israel can expect to set back Iran's nuclear program by no more than a couple of years, at best.

"In this regard, the question of whether Obama would decide to join a military operation against Iran is critical. Intervention by the U.S. military can significantly delay (Iran's nuke program), " Eli Berdenstein, a veteran political commentator wrote Monday.

Netanyahu and Obama are due to meet at the United Nations in New York on Sept. 27, where both leaders are scheduled to address the General Assembly, and hold further discussions on the Iranian issue.

The meeting will take place as Iran's nuclear program fast approaches a critical threshold -- attaining the necessary means to assemble a nuclear weapon.

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