An Israel Air Force attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities would start a
regional war whose end Israel cannot foresee, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan
said on Friday.
“An aerial attack against Iran’s nuclear reactors would
be foolish,” Dagan was widely reported in the media as telling a conference of
senior faculty at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem on Friday, in his first
public remarks since leaving office earlier this year.
Herzog Prize awarded to Dagan
Iran needs to understand that it could start a regional war which will include
missile fire from Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Iranian problem must be
made an international problem, and we must continue to work to delay the nuclear
program,” he said.
This was the first time Dagan had made his opposition
to an Israeli strike against Iran public. In the past he has called for
continued covert action against Iran and for investing in opposition groups
within the country with the objective of toppling the Islamic regime run by
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Before leaving office in January, Dagan broke
away from earlier predictions and said that in his view, Iran would obtain a
nuclear weapon only in 2015.
With regard to the ongoing upheaval in the
Middle East, Dagan downplayed the significance of the toppling of Hosni Mubarak
in Egypt, saying Cairo had merely seen a “change of leaders, and not a
Dagan said the same elite would continue to rule Egypt,
adding that the chance the Muslim Brotherhood would take power was
He also predicted that a new regime would not dramatically
change Egypt’s relations with Israel.
Israel, he said, would benefit from
the removal of Bashar Assad as the ruler of Syria, which could lead to a stop in
the flow of weaponry to Hezbollah. Iran’s influence over the region would also
be curbed, he said.
“Assad and the Alawite elite will fight until the end
since they do not have an alternative. It is either win or die, and they
understand that,” he said.
The former Mossad chief said the so-called
“tsunami” in the Middle East was actually giving expression to historic rifts in
Arab society. He added, however, that a certain barrier of fear had been
breached, and that it was no longer possible to hide events taking place in the
Dagan said he was in favor of conducting a prisoner swap to
secure the release of Gilad Schalit – but “not at any price.” Prisoners released
in 2004 in exchange for businessman Elhanan Tannenbaum were subsequently
responsible for murdering over 200 Israelis, he said.
staff contributed to this report.