JERUSALEM, Israel -- The Senate approved a resolution earlier this week supporting Israel's "legitimate" right to protect itself, as senior Israeli officials said it would strike Iran's nuclear facilities if that becomes necessary.
The Senate resolution included two significant changes from the earlier version presented in late February. The new resolution changes "self-defense" to "legitimate self-defense" and adds the "constitutional responsibility" of Congress to authorize military force.
"If the government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran's nuclear program, the United States government should stand with Israel and provide, in accordance with United States law and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military and economic support to the government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people and existence," the resolution stated.
Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said the Jewish state would go it alone if it has to.
"The world must lead the battle against Iran,"Ya'alon said as the country marked its 65th Independence Day, "but Israel must take into account the possibility that it may be forced to defend itself by itself."
Ya'alon said a nuclear-armed Iran would have "tragic" repercussions for the rest of the world.
"A nuclear Iran could launch an arms race in the Middle East and spread nuclear weapons among terror groups," the defense minister said. "This could be the Western world's nightmare."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel could not let Iran develop a nuclear bomb.
"We can't let that happen. We must stop it for the sake of humanity and we're running out of time," Netanyahu said.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said Israel's army doesn't need foreign support to carry out a military strike against Iran. Israel will decide "if the time comes," he said.
The Islamic Republic continues to push ahead with its nuclear program and with its threats against Israel.
Last month, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed to "annihilate" Tel Aviv and Haifa if Israel launches a military strike against its nuclear plants.
On Saturday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel arrives in Israel on the first leg of an eight-day Middle East tour that includes meetings in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
In Israel, Hagel will meet with Netanyahu, Ya'alon and President Peres "to further the close military to military relationship between the United States and Israel," the Department of Defense announced in a press release.
Hagel's visit comes on the heels of President Obama's announcement to negotiate "a new 10-year agreement to provide Israel with foreign military financing."