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Diskin: PM’s high ice cream bills is the price tag for his handling of Iran
By TOVAH LAZAROFF AND GIL HOFFMAN
05/12/2013
Former Shin Bet head responds to Netanyahu's verbal assault against him in tongue-in-cheek Facebook message.
 
The thousands of shekels that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spent on ice cream and scented candles was a necessary cost to allow him to concentrate on the Iranian crisis, former Shin Bet chief, Yuval Diskin, said on Thursday in a tongue-in-cheek response to Netanyahu’s verbal assault against him the day before.

“Soon [Likud politicians] Gila Gamliel and Gilad Erdan, and other lackeys, will be sent to explain that its necessary [for Netanyahu] to maintain three households at the taxpayers expense, buy NIS 10,000 worth of ice cream, spend NIS 84,000 on water, have crammed suitcases of clothing ironed and cleaned in hotels abroad and [spend] NIS 6,000 on scented candles – so he can concentrate on removing the Iranian threat... sad. We have all heard and are silent,” Diskin said in a statement he posted on his Facebook page.

The latest spat between the two politicians began Wednesday when Diskin attacked Netanyahu’s diplomatic policies with regard to the peace process and said a new governmental coalition was needed, composed of parties dedicated to peace.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is more of an existential threat to Israel than a nuclear Iran, said Diskin at the Geneva Initiative’s 10th anniversary event in Tel Aviv.

Sources close to the prime minister immediately blasted Diskin on Wednesday night, stating he was disconnected from reality and still bitter over Netanyahu’s decision three years ago not to appoint him to head the Mossad.

“I heard the prime minister’s bureau’s response to my words last night,” Diskin wrote on his Facebook page Thursday. “I thought that, at least they didn’t make use of an Arik Einstein song to hide from the extent of the problem on the table.”

In his speech at the Geneva Initiative event, Diskin that his words were apolitical, and did not stem from leftor right-wing ideology but from a sense of responsibility to ensure that what could be the last chance to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was not wasted.

In the past, Diskin has denied the charge he is vengeful over being passed over for head of the Mossad, telling The Jerusalem Post Netanyahu urged him to accept the post, which he did not want, and then backtracked in an unprofessional manner.

Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon said most of the public disagreed with Diskin’s claim that the Palestinian threat was greater than the Iranian threat. He said Diskin was part of a group of bitter former officials, such as former prime minister Ehud Olmert, and that former security chiefs should face a cooling-off period before they are allowed to speak publicly.

Kadima MK Yisrael Hasson, a former deputy Shin Bet chief, said it was wrong of Diskin to undermine Netanyahu’s efforts to prevent Iran’s nuclearization.

In an interview with the Knesset Channel, Hasson said that Diskin’s former job requires him to behave differently.

He also said Diskin was unqualified to give political analysis.

Labor faction chairman Eitan Cabel responded to Diskin’s call for a coalition that would pursue peace, saying that Labor would not join this coalition. Speaking at a conference at the Netanya Academic College, Cabel said that nothing was happening in the peace process with the Palestinians.

In April 2012, Diskin publicly criticized Netanyahu and then-defense minister Ehud Barak saying he had no faith in either of them.

Ahead of the January election, he criticized party leaders Yair Lapid, Tzipi Livni, and Shelly Yacimovich and urged voters to cast a blank ballot.

Transportation Minister Israel Katz called Diskin’s April 2012 comments “crude and inappropriate,” at the time, adding that “if these are his opinions, he should have stated them in the appropriate forums while he was in office.”

On Wednesday night Diskin said that immediate confidence-building gestures were needed to rescue the peace process, such as freezing West Bank settlement building outside of the blocs and an agreement to release all Palestinian prisoners at the end of the negotiations.

Netanyahu’s prisoner release differed, Diskin said, it was a cynical step to allow for continued West Bank settlement construction.

He warned that the current situation was so tense that even the smallest spark could lead to an Arab spring on the Palestinian streets and even in Israel, among Israeli Arabs.

It happened in the last three years in Iran, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria, so it would be “a serious mistake” to think that it could not happen here as well, Diskin said.
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