Former Mossad chief slams Netanyahu for insistence that Iran recognize Israel’s right to exist

Efraim Halevy says Netanyahu might as well be asking Iranians to change their religion.

April 6, 2015 13:11
1 minute read.
Ephraim Halevy

Ephraim Halevy, the former head of the Mossad. (photo credit: YOSSI ALONI)

Former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy harshly criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday for his insistence that world powers demand Iran recognize Israel's right to exist.

Netanyahu had said Friday that any final nuclear deal with Iran must include a clear and unambiguous recognition by Tehran of Israel's right to exist.

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Netanyahu's comments came after a meeting of the security cabinet called to discuss the framework deal agreed upon Thursday between the world powers and Iran in Lausanne. This was the first time he has called for an explicit recognition of Israel by Iran.

Netanyahu said that Israel would not accept an agreement that “allows a country that vows to annihilate us to develop nuclear weapons, period.”

Speaking in an interview with Army Radio on Monday, Halevy said, "The demand from the Muslim world to recognize Israel's right to exist  is almost like asking them to change their religion."

According to Halevy, "In Islam they don't recognize Israel's right, nor do they recognize the right of other nations to exist."

Haaretz editor Aluf Benn noted on Sunday that Netanyahu’s call for the international community to condition an Iran deal on the Islamic Republic recognizing Israel’s right to exist was taken directly from Zionist Union chairman Isaac Herzog’s campaign rhetoric. He suggested that gesture may have been intended by Netanyahu to persuade him to become his foreign minister.

But Herzog’s associates said he was not taking Netanyahu’s words too seriously. “There is no advancement whatsoever toward a unity deal,” a source close to Herzog said.

A source in the Likud negotiating team also said he did not see Netanyahu’s words as a gesture to Herzog.

Herb Keinon and Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.

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