Former UN Ambassador John Bolton believes Wednesday’s terrorist attack against Israeli tourists in Bulgaria is a “major…escalation” in the Middle East that could lead to a military showdown between Iran and Israel. He also believes the U.S. will likely be impacted in light of the recent buildup of American forces in the Persian Gulf.
In an interview with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly on Wednesday, Bolton said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “was choosing his words very carefully” when he explicitly blamed Iran and committed Israel to respond firmly to the attack. He said:
I think when Netanyahu says it’s Iran and not Hezbollah and that we will respond strongly, there’s every indication that could well mean an Israeli attack on Iran directly.
Bolton does not believe Israel is poised to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities at this time, but:
… if there’s an Israeli strike against Iran, even against simply Revolutionary Guards facilities but not the nuclear program, then you could have a direct response by Iran against Israel and we could really be into it.
The former UN ambassador under President George W. Bush, who is now foreign policy adviser to Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney warns this could easily spiral into a major escalation:
You really have to underline this twice. This is a very major development, escalation in the region. It will obviously impact the United States with all the forces we have been building up in the Persian Gulf. I would think they would be put on alert very, very quickly.
Prominent Israeli military analyst Ron Ben-Yishai says Israel could wait a while before responding to the terrorist attack. In his Thursday column in Yediot Aharonot, he writes:
However, given the current situation in the Middle East, which is both uncertain and sensitive, much thought should be invested here.
The elements that require reconsideration are the Iranian nuke issue currently on the agenda, including the possibility of a military operation; a possible collapse of the Syrian regime, which greatly concerns Hezbollah and Iran and may prompt both to act in an unpredictable manner; and, of course, the still unstable regime in Egypt and the sensitive situation in Jordan.
All of the above require Israel to carefully consider whether to respond now, or wait for an opportune time and then settle the score with the perpetrators via a surgical strike.
Jennifer Rubin, who writes the conservative column “Right Turn” for The Washington Post summed up the danger best:
“We are reminded that, far from being chastened by sanctions, the Iranians are extending their reach and operating with impunity. And if Iran does get a nuclear bomb, could Netanyahu retaliate without setting off a nuclear war?”
Watch the John Bolton interview here from Fox News: