efraim halevy 88 298.
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With last week's resignation of Foreign Ministry director-general Aaron Abramovich, a trusted adviser to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, speculation is rife about who will replace him in her inner circle, and possibly be a key player in the Prime Minister's Office if Livni succeeds in setting up a government.
Among the names mentioned are people to whom Livni has turned in the past, and continues to turn to, for security and diplomatic advice, such as former Mossad head Ephraim Halevy and former deputy chief of General staff, Maj.-Gen. (res) Moshe Kaplinsky.
Livni is known to have consulted both men in the past, and - at least as far as Halevy is concerned - has also done so since she won the Kadima primary last month.
Halevy, also a former chairman of the national security council, now heads the Center for Strategic and Policy Studies at the Hebrew University. He has worked for five prime ministers.
In trying to decipher which way Livni may pull on the Iranian issue, it may be instructive to note that in recent months Halevy has been a voice counseling against overstating the Iranian threat.
Last month Halevy sparred with Ephraim Sneh at a conference in Tel Aviv on the Iranian threat. While Sneh said if Iran obtained a nuclear capability it would be the end of the "Zionist dream" and an intolerable reality for Israel, Halevy took a vastly different approach, criticizing Israeli leaders for saying Iran's nuclear threat was "an existential threat."
"There is something wrong with informing our enemy that they can bring about our demise," Halevy said. "It is also wrong that we inform the world that the moment the Iranians have a nuclear capability there is a countdown to the destruction of the State of Israel."
"We are the superpower in the Middle East and it is time that we began behaving like [a] superpower," he said.
Abramovich, meanwhile, has not told Foreign Ministry employees why he suddenly announced his resignation last week, leading to a number of different theories as to why he quit. Among those are that he received a tempting offer in the private sector, that he realized that if Livni became prime minister he would not get the job he desired inside her office, and that he was taking a "cooling off period" so that he could later be appointed by Livni to replace Menachem Mazuz as attorney-general.