Israeli prime minister says a strike on Iran would calm the Arab world

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that a strike on Iran would be a positive step for the rest of the Arab world.

"Five minutes after [an attack], contrary to what the skeptics say, I think a feeling of relief will spread across the region,” Netanyahu said in an interview with French magazine Paris Match, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

"Iran isn't popular in the Arab world, far from it,” Netanyahu said. “Some governments in the region, as well as their citizens, have understood that a nuclear-armed Iran would be dangerous for them, not just for Israel.”

Netanyahu, who is running in an election to be held in January, made the comments ahead of a visit to France he’s making this week.

Also on Tuesday, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph that Iran delayed its decision to build a bomb by “eight to 10 months” by converting a third of its 20-percent enriched uranium for civilian purposes.

“There could be at least three explanations,” Barak said.

“One is the public discourse about a possible Israeli or American operation deterred them from trying to come closer,” he said. “It could probably be a diplomatic gambit that they have launched in order to avoid this issue culminating before the American election, just to gain some time. It could be a way of telling the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] 'oh we comply with our commitments.’ ”

Netanyahu has suggested Israel may attack Iran’s nuclear facilities to try to halt Iran’s nuclear program, a move the Obama administration has tried to dissuade Israel from taking.

In his speech at the United Nations last month, Netanyahu drew a literal “red line” on a bomb representing Iran’s nuclear program that he said Tehran could not cross, but also saying that a decision on attacking Iran was not necessary until next year.

Contrasting Netanyahu’s U.N. comments with his remarks to Paris Match on Tuesday, Haaretz speculated that Netanyahu’s new comments were “attempts at diplomatic leverage and campaign propaganda.”

The United States, Israel and their Western allies suspect Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, while Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

President Obama has said he wants a diplomatic solution to the nuclear dispute, but that he is not taking any options off the table to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.