Another oft-overlooked aspect is the absence of public pressure in Israel for military intervention or of a supposed Iranian threat featuring as a priority issue for Israelis. The pressure to act is top-down, not bottom-up. And to the extent to which there is trepidation among the public, that is a function of fear at the blowback from Israeli military action, rather than fear of Iranian-initiated conflagration. Also to be factored in is the possibility of 2012 being an election year in Israel (though technically the current parliament could serve until October 2013). If Netanyahu does pursue early elections, as many pundits expect, then the political risk associated with an attack increases, heightened by the likelihood of a strike being depicted as an election ploy. What's more, prices at the pump are an issue for Israeli voters, just as they are in the United States.
Especially noteworthy is the extent to which the elements of Netanyahu's coalition further to his right have not embraced or promoted military action against Iran. In fact, they tend to demonstrate a lack of enthusiasm at the prospect. This applies to both the ultra-Orthodox and the greater Israel settler-nationalists. One reason is that they view the Iran issue as peripheral when compared with, say, the pursuit of settlements and an irreversible presence in all of greater Israel. In fact, a strike on Iran is sometimes depicted as presenting a threat to the settlement enterprise, in as much as there is an expectation that part of the fallout would be enhanced pressure on Israel to tamp down resulting regional anger by displaying more give on the Palestinian front. With so many in the settler movement convinced that the irreversibility of 40-plus years of occupation is within touching distance, the last thing they want now is to rock the boat by creating new and unpredictable challenges to their cause. From the outside, that may seem a stretch, given the American and international timidity with which every new settlement expansion is greeted. Yet concern is voiced in settlement circles when the likes of Haaretz Editor in Chief Aluf Benn makes the case for an Itamar (a hard-core ideological settlement) in exchange for Natanz (an Iranian nuclear facility) -- an idea that has led some errant Israeli peaceniks to flirt with joining the pro-war camp on Iran.
The more settler-centric right is also cognizant of the distraction value served by the Iranian nuclear issue in deflecting attention from its land grabs and entrenchment in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Chances are, settlements won't be making any headlines in next week's Obama-Netanyahu meeting. Thus, removal of Iran from the agenda is a losing proposition for the settler lobby. Netanyahu himself surely appreciates the extent to which this comes in handy, in that focusing on Iran (although not attacking Iran) allows Israel to line up together with the West in the camp of the "good guys" for once, as opposed to in the doghouse on the Palestinian issue. Want a sense of just how well this distraction serves the greater Israel cause? Take a look at Goldberg's latest interview with Obama for the Atlantic -- 4,561 words and not one of them mentions the Palestinians or settlements.
Finally, in the "maybe Netanyahu won't attack after all" column, Israel's leadership is aware that its nonmembership in various nuclear accords and its assumed weapons-of-mass-destruction capacity will be dragged more harshly into the spotlight following an Israeli strike -- not something that is likely to lead to precipitous Israeli disarmament, but unwanted, unpleasant, and unpredictable, nonetheless.