A senior Likud politician told my confidential Israeli source that Bibi Netanyahu has decided to delay an Israeli attack on Iran until some weeks or possibly months before the next scheduled Israeli election. That will happen by October 2013 unless Bibi determines he wants to go to the nation earlier.
This is the strategy that Menachem Begin followed in attacking Saddam’s Osirak nuclear plant. There was a national election scheduled in 1981. He launched an attack beforehand, it succeeded, and he squeaked by with a victory which might never have happened had he not attacked.
But what Bibi is doing is a huge gamble, even more than Begin’s, which itself was a very big one, and certainly more than Olmert’s attack on the alleged Syrian nuclear reactor. The last two wars Israel has fought were abject failures and quite unpopular within Israel (though not immediately so). The leader who conducted those wars was drummed out of office (though not directly due to the military failures). If my source is correct, then Bibi will be betting on an attack being popular with the public (a given, since Israelis rally behind any leader taking them to war). But he will also be betting that IDF defensive systems (and any related help offered by the Americans) can neutralize any Iranian response. That seems less likely.
Of course, 2013 is a year and a half away and a lot can change between now and then. So it will be hard to determine whether my source is right. If I were a betting man I’d bet Bibi will attack before then, well before then. But then again, I’m not a senior Likud politician, who presumably has Bibi’s ear.