Diskin´s salvo (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Amos Harel 04/29/12)
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Former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin has mostly kept quite on the Iran
issue, until recently.
Last summer Meir Dagan called an attack on Iran the stupidest idea he
ever heard, but it was Friday´s full-fledged assault by Dagan´s close
friend former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin, on Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, that poured fuel on the
fire of the Iranian issue. Since the end of his term as head of the
Mossad last January, Dagan seems to have been on a self-ordained
divine mission to stop the bombing, prompting him to say many harsh
things. Until now though, Diskin, who shares those same views, had
kept a low profile. The scathing and personal attack he unleashed
against the two leaders was clearly planned ahead of time: When asked
about Iran during his meeting with residents of Kfar Sava on Friday,
Diskin promptly pulled out of his pocket a note on which he had
written a Biblical verse.
The accusation that Netanyahu and Barak are tainted with messianism
in their attitude toward the Iran issue is whispered every so often
by senior officials in the security services. So is the claim that
the two cannot be depended on to decide on such a sensitive issue.
However, this is the first time that an official, who is not part of
a rival political party, has used such wording in public. In doing
so, Diskin is trying to undermine the very legitimacy of Netanyahu´s
and Barak´s status as decision-makers on this question. Dagan has not
yet gone that far.
As expected, Likud and Atzmaut ministers and MKs responded within
hours with a counter-attack on Diskin, raising three central
arguments: that´s no way to talk; he should have made these remarks
behind closed doors while in office; and after all, he was a poor
Shin Bet chief. One may argue over style here (what do the luxury
homes of Netanyahu and Barak, mentioned by Diskin, have to do with
anything, anyhow? ). But Diskin in fact did present his opinion
clearly before he retired. And with regard to his performance in that
office, he was actually one of the better Shin Bet directors we have
had in recent decades. They tried that kind of mud-slinging against
Dagan at the time. We can expect that now, too, it will not be very
What lit a fire under Diskin? The roots apparently lie in a dramatic
meeting that took place less than two years ago, at which an alliance
of top security officials - Dagan, Diskin and then-IDF Chief Gabi
Ashkenazi - with the aid of minister Moshe Ya´alon, blocked decisive
ideas laid out by Netanyahu and Barak. Diskin, who had been appointed
by Ariel Sharon, derived no pleasure from working closely with either
the prime minister or the defense minister. Tensions flared near the
end of Diskin´s term, when Netanyahu pushed him to become Dagan´s
successor as Mossad head, but changed his mind at the last minute.
Then Netanyahu appointed Yoram Cohen to replace Diskin as Shin Bet
head, over Diskin´s opposition and to everyone´s surprise.
One cannot ignore the timing of Diskin´s attack. Last Wednesday,
Haaretz published an Independence Day interview with IDF Chief of
Staff Benny Gantz. Alongside assurances that an IDF attack
was "practical and possible," the IDF chief described the leadership
in Tehran as "very rational," and expressed doubt that Iran would
dare to complete its nuclear weapon. The American media, hungry for
any moderate signs from Jerusalem, jumped on Gantz´s words. Barak,
who is trying at all costs, to preserve the image of an Israeli
attack as a real threat, was quick to respond to Gantz´s statement.
In a detailed speech on Independence Day, Barak called the Ayatollah
regime "not rational in the Western sense of the word," and reminded
the crowd that the role of the IDF is to prepare operational options.
A close reading of Barak´s speech shows that like his other
statements over the past year, the defense minister presents a set of
detailed arguments in favor of an Israeli attack.
Diskin, in contrast, presented the viewpoint also supported by the
Americans: there is no certainty that an Israeli attack will stop the
Iranian nuclear project. Moreover, it might even push it forward,
because following such an attack the leadership in Teheran would have
the perfect pretext to return to the project, claiming that it needs
it for self-defense.
The White House is now devoting most of its efforts to making sure
that Israel does not attack Iran before U.S. elections in November.
The assumption is that a war in the Gulf will immediately spark an
oil crisis, raising prices for American consumers and may even cost
the president the election.
In 2013, Washington will apparently listen more attentively to a
discussion about a military attack by Israel or the United States,
but it is too soon to tell. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 04/29/12)
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