Netanyahu's new security cabinet may hesitate on any Iran war
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has streamlined his security cabinet but its crop of untested politicians and a member who has rankled at saber-rattling could hamper any decision to strike Iran, Reuters reports.
The seven-minister forum was unveiled on Monday as part of a new centre-right government whose "paramount task", Netanyahu said, is to "stop Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons".
At less than half the size of the previous security cabinet, this one includes two novice ministers, Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett. A third member, Gilad Erdan, has political pedigree but has never previously been part of the key decision making circle.
Casting an informed vote on Iran "will require these newcomers study the material for at least three months", said a retired security official from Netanyahu's previous government.
The Iranian issue, Netanyahu said, will top the agenda of his talks with U.S. President Barack Obama, who begins a visit to Israel on Wednesday.
Under Israeli law, war must be approved by the full cabinet. But the security cabinet, whose secrecy is better enforced, can green-light more limited military "missions". Making that distinction depends on whether Israel's intelligence chiefs anticipate an escalation into protracted conflict.
In a U.N. speech last September, Netanyahu set a mid-2013 "red line" for Iranian uranium enrichment which has bomb-making potential although Tehran says it is peaceful. But Iran's slowdown in the stockpiling of medium-enriched uranium could push that line further into the future.