NEW YORK – Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan and former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi denied on Sunday that they refused orders from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to strike Iran in 2010.
They made the claim during a heated debate at The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York with the paper’s columnist Caroline Glick who charged that under their leadership, Israel’s defense apparatus refused to attack, defying the prime minister’s order.
“We were always willing to obey any legal order by the prime minister. We never refused an order,” said Dagan.
“There was never a decision about it,” Ashkenazi added, acknowledging that his assessment was that such a unilateral Israeli strike would not have been wise.
Glick, however, charged that Dagan and Ashkenazi’s prevention of the military option in 2010 led to the current situation in which Iran is on the verge of getting a nuclear bomb.
“In 2010, according to a report from 2012 on the Israeli news program Uvda, we learned that two of the gentlemen on this panel were given an order to prepare the military for an imminent strike against Iran’s military installations and they refused,” Glick said.
“Because it was an illegal order,” Dagan interjected.
“You were ordered by the security cabinet,” Glick said.
“You were not there, we don’t know what happened there,” Dagan answered.
“Had you not brought in your expert legal opinion to determine whether or not the prime minister of Israel and the defense minister of Israel have a right to order Israel to take action in its national defense, then we would not be where we are today. We would not be faced with a situation where no international coalition will be built. Where now we are seeing the United States moving forward at the end of the month to conclude a nuclear agreement with Tehran that will enable them to acquire the bomb. We would be in a different position,” Glick charged to overwhelming applause.
Ashkenazi said that what Glick was saying was “stupid,” later apologizing and saying he meant “insulting.”
He rejected the idea that the military echelon could prevent the political ranks from attacking Iran.
Glick, a frequent critic of the Obama administration, said she believed “there’s no deal to be made with these people,” referring to the Iranians, “that is credible.”
Reflecting on the paths taken – and those passed by – paving a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran, four former security heads denied that a strike was imminent back in 2010.
The panel, chaired by Jerusalem Post editor-in-chief Steve Linde, questioned the viability of a military strike today – just weeks away from an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program brokered by the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany.
“What has to be done now is to renew the sanctions,” said Uzi Dayan, former chairman of the National Security Council. “At the same time, we have to continue aiming a loaded gun toward Iran.”
“I don’t think that anyone in the Middle East believes the military option is a real one,” he continued. “Everyone remembers what happened in Syria.”
Indeed, Giora Eiland, former national security adviser, said he no longer believed that the military threat was a practical approach.
Suggesting partial endorsement of the pending deal, Eiland added: “If there is no agreement, it means Iran is allowed to continue doing what it’s doing.”