Obama has repeatedly said he would not allow Iran to gain nuclear weapons and has said the U.S. would be prepared to use force as a last resort.
But many Israelis are skeptical. Obama is also believed to be unwilling to launch a risky military operation in the run-up to presidential elections. An attack could send global oil prices skyrocketing and endanger U.S. troops in the region.
The Israel Hayom newspaper, widely considered to be a mouthpiece for the Netanyahu government, wrote in an analysis Tuesday that Obama ‘‘does not believe in a military strike on Iran.’’
‘‘Obama could have long ago resolved the entire matter in the simplest fashion: Had he posed the Iranians with an ultimatum, even for a date after Nov. 6 (U.S. presidential elections), he would have allayed Israel’s concerns, he would have shown the Iranians that he was resolute,’’ commentator Boaz Bismuth wrote. ‘‘But Obama has not done that for now, not because he can't, but simply because he doesn’t want to.’’
Israel Hayom is a free tabloid financed by American casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a friend of Netanyahu’s and a major donor to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign.
Strains between Washington and Israel have been exceptionally apparent in recent weeks, with the top U.S. military official, Gen. Martin Dempsey, twice speaking out against a go-it-alone strike. Last week he said he would ‘‘not want to be complicit’’ in such an assault.
At the same time, many in Israel suspect Israel’s leaders are bluffing in order to compel the world to get serious about the issue. An array of retired military officials have said Israel should not act on its own, reasoning that it can depend on Washington to act if necessary. Also, they warn of a harsh response by Iran and its proxies in Lebanon and Gaza in the event of an Israeli strike.
Associated Press writers Amy Teibel in Jerusalem and Ben Feller in Washington contributed to this report.