02/11/2011 15:16 GMT | Updated 02/01/2012 05:12 GMT

Benjamin Netanyahu Pushes For Pre-Emptive Strike On Iran, According To Reports

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is looking for cabinet support to launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran, according to a report in the Haaretz newspaper.

The story sources a high-ranking Israeli official who said that Netanyahu is hoping to build a consensus for striking the Iranian nuclear facilities believed to be part of a programme for building an Iranian nuclear warhead.

Recent weeks have witnessed an on going debate within Israel as to the possibility of a unilateral military strike against the Iranian regime, however Haaretz reported that the doves currently hold sway within the cabinet, including interior minister Eli Yishai and finance minister Yuval Steinitz.

On Monday, Netanyahu told the Knesset: "One of those regional powers is Iran, which is continuing its efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. A nuclear Iran would constitute a grave threat to the Middle East and the entire world, and of course it is a direct and grave threat on us."

One day later, defence minister Ehud Barak, struck a similar tone. "A situation could be created in the Middle East in which Israel must defend its vital interests in an independent fashion, without necessarily having to reply on other forces, regional or otherwise,” he said.

The Atomic Energy Agency's is due to deliver a report on Tuesday (8 November), the contents of which could go far in determining Israel's next course of action.

On Wednesday, Reuters reported that the country’s defence ministry had test-fired a ballistic missile from the Palmachim base. The same day, Iran’s armed forces chief of staff, General Hassan Firouzabadi, said the country was on alert.

"We consider any threat - even those with low probability and distant - as a definite threat," he said.

"With the right equipment, we are ready to punish them and make them regret any mistake."

In the UK, the Guardian reported that British armed forces have been ratcheting-up contingency plans in response to a new aggressiveness in Iranian foreign policy, and the belief that the US may decide to launch targeted missile strikes against Iranian facilities.