A Daily news digest by Jasper van Santen

Is Netanyahu misleading Israelis over Iran? – Al Jazeera English

In News, Politics on April 30, 2012 at 13:14

vIs Netanyahu misleading Israelis over Iran? –

Israeli security and military commanders have criticised Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, accusing him of misleading the Israeli people on important policy issues.

Does this signal a rift between the prime minister and the country’s security establishment and how might it affect Netanyahu’s chances of re-election?

Yuval Diskin, the former head of the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, has become the latest member of the country’s security establishment to openly criticise Netanyahu.

He said Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, his defence minister, should not be trusted to lead policy on Iran and that attacking the Islamic Republic might accelerate Iran’s nuclear programme.

“I don’t believe in either the prime minister or the defence minister,” Diskin said. “I don’t believe in a leadership that makes decisions based on messianic feelings.”

Diskin is not alone in his opposition to the prime minister.

In comments that contradict those of Netanyahu, Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz, Israel’s military chief of staff, told the Haaretz newspaper that he does not think Iran has already made a decision to build nuclear weapons.

“Iran is going step-by-step to the place where it will be able to decide whether to manufacture a nuclear bomb,” Gantz said. “It hasn’t decided yet whether to go the extra mile.”

Gantz added that he believes the Iranian leadership is composed of “very rational” people who will not take the risk of building a nuclear weapon.

Meir Dagan, the former head of Israel’s foreign intelligence service, Mossad, has also joined the fray, calling military action against Iran the “stupidest idea” he has ever heard.

“[Diskin] was closer to [Netanyahu and Barak] than anybody else and he was really the guy that knew everything. He was there until a year ago so you cannot dismiss any word he says and the headlines in the Israeli press show a division among decision makers ….”

– Daniel Ben Simon, a member of the Knesset

But, despite the many current and former high-level members of Israel’s security and military establishment making similar statements, Netanyahu continues to stick to his hard line.

On April 18, he said: “The truth is that a nuclear-armed Iran is an existential threat to the state of Israel. The truth is that a nuclear Iran is also a potential threat to other countries in the region and a serious threat to world peace. And the truth is that it is necessary to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. It is the duty of the world. But first of all, it’s our duty.”

 

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