The former head of Israel’s internal security service Shin Bet reportedly lacks faith in Israel’s leadership and worries that attacking Iran’s nuclear program may spur the Islamic Republic to acquire a nuclear weapon, according to Army Radio. Yuval Diskin made the comments to the Majdi Forum in Israel on Friday night.
According to the Jerusalem Post (with slightly differing translations from Yedioth Ahronoth), Diskin referred to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defense chief Ehud Barak as “our two messiahs,” going on to lambast the country’s leadership:
(T)hey are not fit to hold the steering-wheel of power. I have no faith in the current leadership in Israel and its ability to conduct a war. …
[Israel's leadership] presents a false view to the public on the Iranian bomb, as though acting against Iran would prevent a nuclear bomb. But attacking Iran will encourage them to develop a bomb all the faster.
While a potential Iranian nuclear weapon is widely considered a threat to both the security of the U.S. and its allies in the region, and the nuclear non-proliferation regime, serious questions remain about the efficacy of strike — like Diskin’s — and its potential consequences. Leaving “all options on the table” to deal with the possibility of an Iranian nuclear weapons push — one that neither American nor Israeli intelligence think Iran has decided on — the Obama administration, for the meantime, has pursued a dual-track of pressure and diplomacy aimed at yielding a negotiated resolution to the crisis.
Diskin’s not alone in his assessments — other analysts think attacking now could very well convince the Iranian leadership that they need a weapon for deterrence. The former Shin Bet chief is also joined by a bevy of other current and former top-ranking Israeli security officials. At the Huffington Post, Joel Rubin, the Director of Policy and Government Affairs at the Ploughshares Fund, offers a rundown:
In one of the most astounding public breaks by the Israeli national security establishment with a sitting prime minister, Netanyahu’s own military Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz has stated that Iran’s leadership is rational. Gantz is not alone.
In the past several months, as Netanyahu has ramped up his rhetoric on Iran, senior Israeli national security leaders from the military and intelligence communities have pushed back. In addition to Gantz, the current head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency Tamir Pardo has stated that Iran does not pose an existential threat to Israel. And many more retired military and intelligence leaders echo the same sentiment.
After Gantz’s public comments, Barak made a speech restating a harder Israeli line and adding that “chance(s) appears to be low” for a breakthrough during the upcoming talks between Iran and Western powers in late May. (HT: Ori Nir)