Former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) director Yuval Diskin launched a
scathing attack on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud
Barak on Friday, saying they are guided by “messianic” impulses and lying about
the projected effectiveness of an Israeli strike on Iran.
false image being presented to public and that’s what bothers me,” Diskin said,
speaking to the small Majdi Forum in Kfar Saba.
“They [Netanyahu and
Barak] are giving the sense that if Israel doesn’t act, Iran will have nuclear
weapons. This part of the sentence apparently has an element of truth. But in
the second part of the sentence, they turn to the – sorry for the expression –
the ‘stupid public’ or the layman public... and tell them if Israel acts, there
won’t be [an Iranian] nuclear program. And that’s the incorrect part of the
sentence,” Diskin said.
He cited “many experts” as saying that an Israeli
military strike on Iran’s nuclear sites would result in a speeding up of the
“What the Iranians prefer to do today slowly and
quietly, they will do... quickly and in much less time [after a strike],” he
Diskin became the second major former defense figure to publicly
question the necessity of an Israeli military strike, joining former Mossad
chief Meir Dagan, who described such a proposal at this time as a reckless and
But the ex-domestic intelligence chief went a step further
than Dagan on Friday, saying, “My main problem on this issue is that I don’t
have faith in the current leadership of the State of Israel that has to lead us
to an event as big as a war with Iran or a regional war. I might be saying very
difficult things. I don’t believe in the prime minister or the defense minister.
I really don’t believe in a leadership that makes decisions out of messianic
Diskin proceeded to pull out a sheet of paper that contained a
biblical quote from the Prophet Zachariah. The former Shin Bet chief read out
the text, a description of the characteristics of a messiah.
from the paper, Diskin asked the audience, “Is this how you see our two
‘messiahs?’ One from [the] Akirov [Towers luxury residential building in Tel
Aviv, where Barak lives]... and one from... Caesarea [where Netanyahu has a
home], are these really messiahs?” “I’m telling you, I’ve seen them from up
close, and they’re not messiahs. And they are people who I personally do not
trust to lead Israel into an event of this size, and then to extract [Israel]
from it,” he added.
Toward the end of his comments, Diskin said he did
not believe that an attack on Iran was by definition an “illegitimate decision,”
adding, “I’m just very concerned that these are not the people I would like to
be holding the steering wheel when setting out on this kind of
Diskin became the head of the Shin Bet in 2005. In 2009,
Netanyahu asked for his term to be extended. He resigned in 2011, and was
replaced by Yoram Cohen.
Diskin also blamed the Netanyahu government for
the stalled peace process with the Palestinian Authority.
all the stories they’re selling to us in the media, that we want to talk but Abu
Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas], he doesn’t. I’m telling you, we’re not
talking to the Palestinians because this government does not want to talk to the
Palestinians, and I was there until a year ago and I know what’s going on in
this field from up close.”
Diskin accused the government of having “no
interest in solving anything with the Palestinians. This government knows that
if it makes the smallest step in this direction, than the current power base and
strong coalition will fall apart. It’s very simple.”
He added that
he was not defending the Palestinians, saying that Abbas “has made mistakes, but
that’s not relevant now.”
“We as a people have an interest in peace; the
government does not,” Diskin continued.
Earlier, he said the concept of
reaching a complete resolution of the conflict was a utopian and unrealistic
idea, and proposed reaching a two-state solution within the confines of the
Political leaders slammed Diskin for his
MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud) implied that Diskin’s comments
were politically motivated, as they were conveniently made when an election was
“If these are really his opinions about the prime minister
and defense minister, we would expect the Shin Bet chief to state them – and to
act upon them – in real time, and not to wait for an election year,”
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) said
that the former domestic intelligence chief’s statements were “crude and
inappropriate,” adding that “if these are his opinions, he should have stated
them in the appropriate forums while he was in office.”
“I think that
Diskin was wrong to say what he did, and that when he considers what he said, he
will realize that he was wrong,” Vice Premier Silvan Shalom (Likud) said on Friday.
and Sport Minister Limor Livnat (Likud) called Diskin’s comments
“inappropriate,” adding that they could damage the country’s
Neither Barak nor Netanyahu has commented on Diskin’s remarks,
though sources close to the defense minister said sarcastically on Saturday, “We
welcome his entrance into politics.”
The sources said Diskin’s attack was
politically motivated, and that it was “embarrassing and saddening to see the
weakness, judgement, irresponsibility and low language that Diskin, who served
the public for years, was dragged into.”
Continuing their counterattack,
the sources said Diskin was acting in a petty, inappropriate manner, and was
driven by “personal frustration.”
“He is harming the legacy of Shin Bet
heads... and the functioning norms and values of the organization,” they
An official noted that the Shin Bet is a peripheral player
vis-a-vis Iran, and also said that Diskin had worked with both Barak and
Netanyahu, and had asked for his term to be extended as the head of the Shin
If Diskin believed that Barak and Netanyahu were so untrustworthy,
why did he want to work with them? the official asked.
With respect to
his comments about the “stupid public,” the official said, “we should give the
public more credit.”
Tovah Lazaroff and Jerusalem Post staff contributed
to this report.