Israeli workers are seen building a wall near the border with Israel near the village of Naqoura, Lebanon February 8, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/ALI HASHISHO)
Former Mossad chiefs are in agreement in saying Israel must do more to actively resolve the conflict with the Palestinians, but they disagree about whether Israel has made a final offer on setting borders.
In a Friday interview with Yediot Aharonot, Efraim Halevy (Mossad chief from 1998-2002) and Danny Yatom (agency leader from 1996-1998), said that past Israeli leaders like Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert had been ready to finalize a borders compromise with the Palestinians, while Tamir Pardo, who headed the Mossad from 2011-2016, said those offers were short on specifics.
While all six former Mossad chiefs interviewed agreed that Israel needs to do more than it is doing now to make peace with the Palestinians, the consensus broke down over how far Israel has gone in the past in an effort to do that.
Pardo said, “The central problem from 1967 until today is that Israel, from one end of the political spectrum to the other, has not decided what kind of state it wants to be. We are the only state in the world that has not defined its own borders. Every government has run away from struggling with this issue.”
Yatom then interjected, “The Rabin government didn’t run away from this. He was murdered.”
Halevy chimed in by saying, “Danny [Yatom] is right – 1993 is the only year in the history of the state in which there were three simultaneous peace processes – with the Palestinians, the Syrians and the Jordanians.”
Pardo added, “But no prime minister has announced what he would like the borders to be.”
Yatom jumped in again, saying, “Barak defined this. He was ready to withdraw from the Golan and more or less to the 1967 borders.”
Pardo stuck to his guns. “Sorry, but I am sticking to my view. Israeli governments have not done it. Olmert also had a vision and [Ariel] Sharon had a vision and Rabin had a vision. Each one of them traveled the one mile they were ready to walk, but not a single one of them said ‘These are the country’s borders.’”
He continued, “If Israel does not decide what it wants quickly, in the end there will be one state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. This would be the end of the Zionist vision.”
This last point returned the six chiefs to a consensus.
Shabtai Shavit, ran the Mossad from 1989-1996, added, “Peace based on the principle of two states for two peoples is an interest even more important to the Jews than to the Palestinians.”
Multiple Mossad former chiefs then pushed back against the idea that there is no Palestinian peace partner, instead saying that the Palestinians are a difficult partner, but they can be negotiated with.
The other two chiefs interviewed were Zvi Zamir, who headed the agency from 1968-1974, and Nachum Admoni, who was chief from 1982-1989.