'Dagan 'fully entitled' to express views on Iran attack'

Former Shin Bet director Avi Dichter to the 'Post': "I'm glad he spoke out"; Mossad official says Dagan has the right to express his opinion.

dichter _wrong dimensions (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
dichter _wrong dimensions
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Recently retired Mossad chief Meir Dagan came under fire from government ministers on Thursday after publicly calling on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu a day earlier to decide against a military strike on Iran’s nuclear sites.
But a former senior Mossad official, Rami Igra, told The Jerusalem Post that the attacks on Dagan were unwarranted and politically motivated.
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In the latest in a series of public comments opposing military intervention against the Iranian program, Dagan said Wednesday that he did not want “a 1973 [Yom Kippur War] on my conscience.” He warned that an attack on Iran would result in a regional war – not halt Iran’s nuclear program.
“These are, by definition, political statements,” Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) told Army Radio on Thursday.
“He has a right to say these things, but if there are these beliefs, he should have voiced them during briefings.”
Some officials said Dagan had indeed aired those beliefs during briefings while in office.
“Meir Dagan is a citizen of the country like any other. He has a right to say what he thinks, and his view is based on many years of experience in security,” said Igra.
“At the same time, it’s only his opinion,” he added. “There are many others who are not less experienced, and who have other opinions. The decision- makers will eventually take their own decisions.
Those from the Right don’t agree with him about Iran.
Those from the Left don’t agree with him about Schalit,” Igra added, referring to Dagan’s call Wednesday to refuse to release the large number of terrorists being demanded by Hamas in exchange for the abducted soldier.
He also said he believed that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, driven by public relations considerations, are interested in carrying out a prisoner-swap detail toward September.
“They will accept a deal that is better for Israel than the one being discussed now. Israel must prepare for this,” Igra said.
Kadima MK Avi Dichter, who was director of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) from 2000 to 2005, welcomed Dagan’s comments on Thursday.
“I’m glad he spoke out,” Dichter told the Post. “I don’t think there are any operational comments here. He didn’t discuss times or methods of attack.
“The prime minister has his own advisers, including Dagan’s replacement,” he added.
“The question is not whether to attack Iran or not, but whether Iran is capable of obtaining nuclear weapons... and how to prevent them from doing so. There are many ways to do this,” Dichter said.
Minister-without-Portfolio Yossi Peled (Likud) on Thursday accused Dagan of behaving “irresponsibly and harming Israel” with his remarks.
Dagan has good intentions, but some things should not be said in public, Peled told Israel Radio.
“Israel needs to say that it will do everything to ensure its existence, and that’s it,” he said.