Commanders for Israel's Security hold press conference..
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is responsible for failed policies on Hamas and the Iranian nuclear program, and he has poisoned Israel’s relationship with the United States, former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit said on Wednesday.
“No one else is responsible for the failures in facing Hamas, the Iranian nuclear program.
No one else is responsible for turning the United States from an ally into an enemy,” Shavit said. “We are asking you, where is your sense of responsibility?” Shavit, who served as director of the Mossad from 1989 to 1996, also said Netanyahu was bad for the nation’s security and that in his opinion, the prime minister’s handling of the Iranian nuclear issue so far had been “one big mistake which has caused damage to the State of Israel and, I am certain, will cause damage in the future as well.”
He made the comments at a press conference held by Commanders for the Security of Israel – a group that describes itself as a non-partisan movement of former top security officials from the IDF, Mossad, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), and police who are devoted to promoting a regional initiative to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and to normalize Israel’s relations with the Arab world.
The group includes around 200 former top security officials.
At the beginning of the month, it called on Netanyahu to cancel his March 3 speech to the US Congress, and warned that his security and diplomacy policies were destroying Israel’s alliance with the US, harming the Jewish state’s deterrence and helping Iran get closer to obtaining nuclear weapons.
In addition to Shavit, the press conference featured Brig.-Gen. (res.) Asher Levy, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amnon Reshef, Brig.-Gen. (res.) Giora Inbar and Aryeh Felman, former division head and deputy director of the Shin Bet.
Reshef claimed that Netanyahu “suffers from the sort of diplomatic blindness that we saw before the Yom Kippur War.”
He added that “unfortunately we paid a heavy price in the Yom Kippur War, a price that could have been prevented if we would have understood what [the Egyptians] wanted.
In the end, we ceded every millimeter of land, but lost valuable people. Unlike what the prime minister and his people say, the Israeli public believes in a diplomatic solution with the moderate pragmatic Arab states, into which the Palestinian issue can be integrated. The IDF can defend Israel on any borders that are established by the government.”
The press conference took place just days after former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who served from 2002-2011, slammed the prime minister at a major anti-Netanyahu rally in Tel Aviv. Dagan said at the Saturday night rally that while Israel was surrounded by enemies, he was more frightened by Israel’s leadership, which he said had a “lack of vision and loss of direction.”
“I am frightened by the hesitation and the stagnation,” he said. “And I am frightened, above all else, by a crisis in leadership. It is the worst crisis that Israel has seen to this day.”
A day earlier, Channel 2 aired an interview with Dagan in which he referred to claims Netanyahu had made in his Congress speech as “bullshit.”
With Netanyahu again coming under attack from former top security brass, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon came to his aid on Wednesday evening.
Speaking at a press conference at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, he spoke about the good intentions that security officials and politicians had had in the past toward concessions and peace arrangements, like the Oslo Accords and the Gaza disengagement – which were followed by an increase in terror and bloodshed. He added that many of the former security officials were not up to date on security issues since their retirement or, in other cases, were commenting on issues in which they had never specialized.
He said that Israeli leaders must stand strong in the face of both internal and external pressure, and that he was certain that “if we hadn’t been in charge the past two years or six years, there would have been a Hamastan in the West Bank.”
Former Likud minister Bennie Begin, meanwhile, said, “We in the Likud have proven that we are more in touch with reality and strive for solutions.”
Former Shin Bet chief and Likud candidate Avi Dichter said simply that when it came to the issue of security, “no other party leadership even comes close to the Likud.”