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Israeli ministers: Election won't affect Iran

Associated Press Modified: May 2, 2012 at 2:16 pm •  Published: May 2, 2012

JERUSALEM (AP) — Two top Israeli security officials said Wednesday that the prospect of early national elections will have no influence over a decision over whether to strike Iranian nuclear sites.

Both Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon said in published comments on Wednesday that policy toward Iran will be based solely on strategic interests.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signaled this week that he may call parliamentary elections a year ahead of schedule — casting additional uncertainty over any Israeli military plans.

Israel considers Iran a threat to its existence because of its nuclear and missile development programs, frequent reference to Israel's destruction by Iranian leaders and Iran's support of violent anti-Israel groups in Lebanon and Gaza.

Israel has been warning for years that Iran is trying to construct nuclear bombs. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Both Barak and Netanyahu have often hinted at an Israeli military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, but no specific threats have been made, and some believe the talk is meant only as pressure.

Israeli media reported Wednesday that the election would be set for September 4.

"The election would have no affect on considerations on the professional level regarding the Iranian issue," Barak said on his Facebook page in answer to questions from the public.

Echoing Barak's sentiments was Deputy Prime Minster Moshe Yaalon. "The election will not be a consideration in the Iranian issue. If we need to make decisions we will make them," he told the Maariv daily.

There has been a precedent to big military offensive prior to an election.

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