World Bulletin/News Desk
A former deputy of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday a pre-emptive military strike against Iran over its nuclear programme could embroil Israel in a "disastrous war".
Shaul Mofaz, a parliamentary opposition leader who quit Netanyahu's cabinet last month where he served as vice premier, said on Israeli television he thought Israel was "planning a hasty, irresponsible event".
The former general and defence minister said he thought Israel could not do anything to force a strategic change in Iran's nuclear programme.
As a member of Netanyahu's security cabinet for two months, Mofaz was privy to deliberations on Iran's nuclear programme.
He told Channel 2 television in a studio interview that any Israeli military action "can at the most delay it (Iran's programme) by about a year, and it can bring upon us a disastrous war".
Naming both Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak, he said he was "very worried at what they are preparing". He added: "I hope very much we don't reach such a war because it would be a disaster."
Days after he quit the cabinet late in July in a dispute about military conscription policy, Mofaz, who heads the centrist Kadima party, cautioned he would not back any Israeli military "adventures".
His comments echoed those of other former Israeli security officials who have spoken against any unilateral attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, with some saying such an assault could spur Tehran to speed up uranium enrichment.
Israel widely believed to be the only atomic power in the Middle East, views Iran's nuclear programme as an existential threat.
There has been an upsurge in rhetoric from Israeli politicians this month suggesting Israel might attack Iran's nuclear facilities ahead of U.S. presidential elections in November.
Netanyahu is frustrated that Western diplomacy to try to force Iran to rein in its programme has so far proved fruitless.
However senior Israeli officials have said that a final decision about whether to attack Iran has not yet been taken, with ministers disagreeing over the issue and the military hierarchy unhappy about the prospect of going it alone without full U.S. backing.