Israel has been pressing the United States not to defer its military operation aimed at topplingSaddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, the Israeli mainstream Ha'aretz Daily reported on Friday.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has reportedly sent messagesto the US administration in recent days, saying that postponing theIraq operation "will not create a more convenient environment for action in the future."
But Sharon added that Israel would support any American action, and would respect US decisions regarding the method and the timing.
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres also sent a similar message during an interview with CNN on Thursday.
"The problem today is not if, but when," he said, adding that while attacking now would be "quite dangerous... postponing it would be more dangerous," because Saddam "will have more weapons."
Peres, however, reportedly stressed that he did not want to be seen as urging the United States to act and that America should actaccording to its own judgment, but that Israel "will be a good soldier."
As for whether and how Israel would respond to an Iraqi strike, both Sharon and Peres expressed some preservation.
In Sharon's opinion, if Iraq attacks Israel, Israel would exercise its right of self-defense, but the response would be closely coordinated with the United States.
Peres also said that the response would depend on the type of the Iraqi attack.
"If we are talking about a single missile that falls in the middle of the Arava desert, far from the major population centers, or into the sea, it is hard to believe that we will respond," the daily quoted a senior government source as explaining.