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WSJ: Israeli Faith in Iran's Opposition Gains Favor

Author: Charles Levinson
March 10, 2010

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Israeli Ministry of Defense adviser Uri Lubrani's opinion that supporting Iranian opposition is a better policy than considering a nuclear strike has gained momentum in Israeli policy cirlces, the Wall Street Journal reports.

TEL AVIV-Israel's oldest civil servant, 83-year-old Ministry of Defense adviser Uri Lubrani, has spent his career defying conventional wisdom on Iran.

Today, Israel's political and military establishment appears to be tilting toward one of his long-ignored views: Israeli support for Iran's opposition movement-and not a miltary strike-is the best way to combat the regime in Tehran.

Israeli officials have regularly suggested the country is ready to attack Iran to curb its nuclear program, which some Israelis view as a threat to the country's existence.

After the rise of the Iranian protest movement following disputed elections in June, Israeli leaders toned down the rhetoric. In February, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, visiting Moscow, said Israel wasn't "planning any wars" against Tehran.

Instead, U.S. and Israeli officials are pushing for tough economic sanctions they hope will drive a bigger wedge between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the opposition.

"A military strike will at best delay Iran's nuclear program, but what's worse, it will rally the Iranian people to the defense of the regime," says Mr. Lubrani, who was ambassador to Iran from 1973 to 1978 and is now a special adviser to Israel's minister of defense. "We must do everything possible to help (the protest movement) do the job."

Rafi Eitan, an adviser to Mr. Netanyahu, says the protests "changed people's attitudes here. They started to understand that this should be done the way Lubrani has been saying it should be done."

The Israeli defense establishment includes those who favor a more aggressive posture toward Iran, including a military strike if necessary, and those who oppose the military option. But even hawkish officials interviewed in recent months stressed they were aware of the risks of military action. Officials expressed support for sanctions, and said they weren't eager to attack.

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