WASHINGTON – Vice President Joe Biden issued a high-level admonishment to Israel’s new government Tuesday that it would be “ill advised” to launch a military strike against Iran.
Biden said in a CNN interview that he does not believe newly installed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would take such a step. Even so, his comment underscored a gap between the conservative new Israeli government and the Obama White House on a series of questions, including the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Iran.
Although the Obama administration has made a series of recent overtures to Iran, the Israelis have grown more confrontational out of concern that the Islamic republic’s increasing nuclear know-how could one day become an existential threat.
Netanyahu signaled several times during his election campaign that he would not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran.
With his brief comment Tuesday, Biden became the highest-ranking administration official to caution the Jewish state against a military strike. In the interview, Biden was asked whether he was concerned that Netanyahu might strike the Iranian nuclear facilities.
“I don’t believe Prime Minister Netanyahu would do that. I think he would be ill-advised to do that,” Biden said. “And so my level of concern is no different than it was a year ago.”
However, many U.S. officials believe Israel is serious. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, head of U.S. forces in the Middle East, told senators earlier this month that the Israeli government may be “so threatened by the prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapon that it would take pre-emptive military action to delay or derail it.”