Ephraim Halevy, the former head of the Mossad.
(photo credit: YOSSI ALONI)
Former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy, one of the few prominent Israeli figures willing to speak positively about the nuclear deal struck between the world powers and Iran, told Channel 2 that he did not mind being cited by US Secretary of State John Kerry as part of the Obama administration's public relations campaign in favor of the agreement.
"This is not an agreement that is entirely bad," Halevy told Channel 2 on Friday. "There are positive elements in it."
The onetime spymaster implicitly criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's public and vocal opposition to the deal, which in his view has led to a situation whereby "nobody can have a discrete conversation with the Americans."
When asked about Kerry's use of Halevy's quotes to buttress the administration's case, the former Mossad director said: "I was very surprised that Kerry mentioned me, but over the years I've gotten used to having my name mentioned from time to time."
"This agreement has a number of very good elements for Israel, and there are elements that are not as good," he said. "There are some holes, but keep in mind that the Iranian parliament attacked the deal as one that favors the powers."
Halevy criticized Israel's political figures for eschewing a public debate on the issue.
"The US Congress is having discussions, the Iranian parliament is having discussions, and the Knesset is going on vacation," he said. "Unfortunately, there is no public debate here on this issue. There's just soundbites."
"If there was a serious debate in the Knesset, I think this would serve the public and the Israeli position well, since the people would better understand what's good about the agreement and what's bad about it."
Halevy saved his strongest criticism for the government's handling of its foreign policy.
"I'd want there to be someone in Washington who could walk into any room on Capitol Hill, have a discrete conversation with whomever necessary in order to get certain things clear, and to get to the bottom of these issues," he said. "These days, that doesn't exist."
While he did not mention Netanyahu by name, the former Mossad head said that the prime minister "is preoccupied with ganging up on Congress."
Despite his positive view of the agreement, Halevy predicted that the Iranians would try to cheat.
"The only question is how and when," he said. "We can only judge after three or four years."
Halevy said that the agreement's flaws can be found in the stipulations regarding supervision of Iran's nuclear program. "Within 10 or 15 years, Iran can march to the bomb," he said.
"But it's important to remember that 10 years is an eternity in the Middle East," the former Mossad head said.