Filed Under:

In Israel, A Rift On How To Deal With Iran

Play associated audio

As Israel wages an intense daily debate about Iran and its nuclear program, a rift between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel's former intelligence chiefs has become public.

The recently retired head of internal security, Yuval Diskin, has bashed Netanyahu and his Defense Minister Ehud Barak, calling them unfit to lead the country.

Diskin, who headed Shin Bet, accused Netanyahu and Barak of purposefully misleading the public on the urgency of the threat posed by Iran and its nuclear program. Diskin was also quoted as saying that Netanyahu was not serious about a peace process with the Palestinians.

Diskin's comments were made in a closed forum of about 50 people in southern Israel, but were leaked to the press.

This comes after the former head of the Mossad intelligence agency, Meir Dagan, said that Iran poses less of an immediate danger to Israel than Netanyahu asserts.

Netanyahu has said repeatedly that Iran's nuclear program poses a grave danger to Israel, and that time is rapidly running out for Israel and other countries to act.

Netanyahu's Position Under Criticism

The ex-security chiefs, meanwhile, say Iran does pose a serious risk. But they also say that Israel is not in a position where it has to decide immediately on whether to carry out military action.

For its part, Iran says its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes and that it does not intend to build nuclear bombs.

In New York on Sunday, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert joined those critical of Netanyahu's approach. He told a conference organized by the Jerusalem Post newspaper that there was enough time to try different approaches to Iran without the need for a direct military confrontation.

At the same conference, Dagan reiterated his allegation that Netanyahu has exaggerated the Iranian threat. And he also expressed support for Diskin.

"I know firsthand that [Diskin's] points of view were presented by him to the prime minister and defense minister many times," Dagan said.

During Dagan's speech, an argument broke out between him and an Israeli Cabinet minister, Gilad Erdan, who is a strong supporter of Netanyahu.

Erdan accused Dagan and Diskin of voicing their discontent with Netanyahu out of spite because they weren't awarded additional terms in office.

Dagan, through clenched teeth, minced few words when he replied to Erdan.

"You are lying, sir," Dagan said. "And maybe [it's] not polite, but I prefer that ministers of the state of Israel speak the truth."

An official from Netanyahu's office declined to comment on the exchange. The official also said that Netanyahu would not be responding because he was mourning the death of his father, Benzion Netanyahu, a well-known Israeli historian who died Monday at the age of 102.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Lisa Lucas Takes The Reins At The National Book Foundation

Lucas is the third executive director in the history of the foundation, which runs the National Book Awards. Her priority? Inclusivity: "Everyone is either a reader or a potential reader," she says.
NPR

The Shocking Truth About America's Ethanol Law: It Doesn't Matter (For Now)

Ted Cruz doesn't like the law that requires the use of ethanol in gasoline. So what would happen if it was abolished? The surprising answer: not much, probably.
WAMU 88.5

The Latest on the Military, Political and Humanitarian Crises in Syria

Russia continues airstrikes in Syria. Secretary Kerry meets with world leaders in an attempt to resolve the country’s five-year civil war. A panel joins Diane to discuss the latest on the military, political and humanitarian crises facing Syria.

NPR

Should India's Internet Be Free Of Charge, Or Free Of Control?

Facebook's free Internet service was banned in India on the basis of net neutrality this week. Internet providers, regulators say, should not be allowed "to shape the users' Internet experience."

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.