Yuval Diskin, the former chief of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) on Friday leveled sharp criticism against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak over their decision-making process.
In an interview published in Yedioth Ahronoth, Diskin, who served as Shin Bet chief from 2005-2011, cited alcohol consumption, cigar smoking and the fact that Netanyahu is "possessed" by Iran as reasons to oppose his premiership.
"Netanyahu is scared, fickle and shirking responsibility," Diskin told Yediot. "There is a crisis of leadership here, a crisis of values and total contempt for the public. Maybe people will think I'm exaggerating, but I’m telling you: From close up it looks even worse."
Diskin based his criticism on "an important discussion about Iran," in which Netanyahu, Barak and former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman allegedly were "sitting and smoking cigars in front of everyone."
According to Diskin, "The defense minister [Barak] gets up and walks over to a corner and pours himself a little drink from time to time. In the middle of such a sensitive, confidential meeting, he is standing with a drink in one hand and a cigar in the other, in front of the IDF's officers and intelligence officials."
"When I look at Netanyahu and Barak," Diskin continued, "I don't see an iota of leadership qualities in either of them. [Former prime minister Yitzhak] Rabin, [President Shimon] Peres, [former prime minister Ariel] Sharon and [former prime minister Ehud] Olmert knew how to put the national interest before everything else. I didn't feel this way with Netanyahu or Barak. I don't think others did either. "
According to the former Shin Bet head, Netanyahu's attitude towards Iran is tainted by his determination to secure his place in the pages of history.
"I have a very deep feeling that when it comes to Iran," Diskin told Yediot.
"Netanyahu is possessed by Menachem Begin, who attacked Iraq's nuclear reactor, and by Olmert, who many claim is responsible for the attack on Syria's reactor.
"Bibi [Netanyahu] wants to go down in history as the person who did something on this size and scale. I have heard him belittle what his predecessors have done and assert that his mission on Iran is on a much grander scale."
Following the interview, the Prime Minister's Office slammed
Diskin's statements as "ridiculous...recycled for political purposes."
They attributed his statements as stemming from his "own frustration
about not being named head of the Mossad."
Diskin was interviewed by documentary filmmaker Dror Moreh, whose film “The Gatekeepers” consists of extensive and rare interviews with the six surviving former heads of the Shin Bet (the General Security Services) in Israel, including Diskin.