ShareThis Page
World

Israelis split on a possible strike on Iran

| Saturday, April 28, 2012, 10:18 p.m.

JERUSALEM - The former chief of Israel's domestic intelligence agency has described Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak as men driven by "messianic feelings" and said he had "no faith" in them to lead a potential strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

The scathing comments by Yuval Diskin, who had kept a low profile since retiring last year, added to the sense of a divide between Israel's security establishment and its political leadership over the Iran issue. Earlier last week, the current military chief voiced confidence that sanctions and the threat of military action would deter Iran from building nuclear bombs, an analysis that contrasted with Netanyahu's and Barak's grimmer assessments.

Diskin, who headed the Shin Bet security agency for six years, was far harsher. Speaking at a community meeting on Friday, he said a pre-emptive Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites probably would accelerate, not end, Iran's nuclear ambitions.

"They are misleading the public on the Iran issue," Diskin said of the prime minister and the defense minister, according to an account in the daily newspaper Haaretz.

He added: "Believe me, I have observed them from up close. ... They are not people who I, on a personal level, trust to lead Israel to an event on that scale and carry it off. These are not people who I would want to have holding the wheel in such an event."

Diskin's comments echoed those made by Meir Dagan, the chief of Israel's Mossad spy agency until January 2011, who said last year that a strike on Iran would lead to "regional war" and encourage Iran to continue its nuclear program. At the time, Dagan told Israeli journalists that he feared his retirement, as well as that of Diskin and the former military chief, Gabi Ashkenazi, had removed voices that could "block any dangerous adventure" led by Netanyahu and Barak.

Diskin, who was described upon his retirement as a highly successful Shin Bet chief, had not spoken publicly of his reservations before Friday.

The offices of Netanyahu and Barak issued no responses on Saturday.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me