Netanyahu pushed previous prime minister Olmert to attack Iran, according to Wikileaks cables

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu actively pushed for a military strike on Iran, according to a report published in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Thursday.

A document revealed by Wikileaks, dated July 20, 2007, shows that Mr. Netanyahu, leader of the Likud party, urged an attack on Iran in exchange for joining the government at the time, led by Ehud Olmert.

Mr. Netanyahu's request was made as part of discussions to form a government of national unity between Likud and Mr. Olmert's Kadima party, according to the leaked cable, classified as "confidential" and penned by Marc. J. Sievers, who was at the US embassy in Tel Aviv as a political counselor.

An advisor to Mr. Netanyahu told American officials at the time that the Likud leader was willing to take the post of foreign minister, while Mr. Olmert would have become prime minister.

However, Mr. Netanyahu demanded military action against Iran as the price for his participation in the proposed coalition. According to the advisor cited in the US cable, Mr. Netanyahu urged the Kadima leader to "galvanize Israel for action against Iran."

Israel has previously entertained the possibility of military strikes to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons capability. In November 2010, Iran announced uranium enrichment activities had been disrupted by the Stuxnet computer virus. The Iranian government later accused the US and Israel of responsibility for the malware.

Israel and Western powers have accused Iran, whose president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map," of seeking to obtain nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear program.