Efraim Halevy at JPost Annual Conference .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Israel would do well to sit quietly and let what is happening in Iran play out on its own, former Mossad director Efraim Halevy told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
On Monday evening Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on camera on the protests in Iran, becoming the second world leader to comment on them following tweets by US President Donald Trump.
Netanyahu wishes "the Iranian people success in their noble quest for freedom" (YouTube/IsraelPM)
“If we inject ourselves into the events in Iran, there will be no benefit from any point of view. We have enough of our own problems,” he said, cautioning that “we would be well advised not to stir the cauldron in Tehran.”
Earlier Monday Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said
told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday that, while Israel is not involved in internal Iranian issues, “we want to see the repressive regime removed and replaced with a democracy. We don’t intervene, but we wish luck to the Iranian people in pursuit of freedom and democracy.”
Israeli minister expresses support for Iranian protesters as regime report 10 dead in clashes (Reuters)
The five days of nationwide demonstrations so far are the largest show of dissent against the regime in Tehran since the Green Movement in 2009 which saw millions of Iranians take to the streets of the Islamic Republic before it was brutally suppressed by security forces.
According to Halevy, although “the regime is moving very gingerly” in dealing with the protests, hundreds have been arrested and at least 12 people have been killed in clashes with security forces.
On Sunday an Iranian official blamed “foreign agents” for a clash in which two protesters were killed. And on Saturday, former conservative Iranian lawmaker Ahmad Tavakkoli accused the US and Israel of trying to change the direction of protests.
“The US and Israel are seeking to deflect the protests and reap their own fruits,” he said in an interview with Fars News on Saturday, adding that “the fallout of such chaos will put in trouble not only the government but the whole country.”
According to Halevy, who spent some four decades in Israel’s clandestine spy agency and left after acting as its ninth chief from 1998-2002, “if we were wiser and less keen on seizing on every opportunity to pounce on the Iranians [and just] left them to themselves, we would be doing a great favor to the moderates in Iran and to ourselves.”
Calling the protests “positive developments for Israel’s interests,” Halevy told the Post
that the end results of the protest can be to Israel’s benefit.
“They have problems – serious problems,” he said, cautioning that “if we intervene we will weaken those in Iran who might in the future be inclined to [promote] a better policy, which would bring us back into a relationship with Iran like we had before.”
Israel and Iran maintained close ties – from the establishment of the State of Israel when Iran was the first Muslim country to recognize the Jewish State – until the fall of the Shah and the Iranian Revolution in 1979.
“Ultimately there are no real issues that should be contentious between Israel and Iran. That’s why any event in Iran which contributes one way or another to turn them toward another cause is something we must be interested in,” Halevy said. He stressed that while Israel should be interested in what is happening on the Iranian streets, “we should behave in a manner which is conducive to this, and not exacerbate it.”
“Iran might reassess its relations with Israel,” the former spymaster said, “but not overnight. We would do well to keep out of it and reserve our comments for the future.”