Outgoing Shin Bet chief Diskin warns against politicization

“We and the police are two organizations that walk the fine line between maintaining national security and civil rights,” says Diskin.

311_Diskin (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
As the government met across the street to approve the appointment of Yoram Cohen to lead the Shin Bet, the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee met Sunday to salute outgoing Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin.
Diskin, who will conclude his six-year-long term in office in mid- May, issued a subtle warning against politicization of the secretive organization, while complimenting those who served under him for treading a difficult line.
“The Shin Bet does not operate just in the Palestinian field, but also deep in the fabric of Israeli society, where it tries to identify threats and respond to them to maintain national security,” he said.
“We and the police are two organizations that walk the fine line between maintaining national security and civil rights,” he added. “It is not easy, and it is important that the political leadership knows to maintain the organization as respectable.”
Amid compliments regarding his tenure, Diskin summed up his six years at the head of the organization, saying “most of the time, I just tried not to interfere.”
Diskin described six years in which terror attacks against Israelis declined significantly.
That decline, said Diskin, was “the glass half-full.”
“The half-empty glass is the fact that just over 160 people were killed and 2,300 were wounded in those years,” he added.
“I am proud that the organization succeeded in reducing suicide bombings, which at the beginning of the decade barely allowed us to maintain normal life.”
Although Diskin took a largely diplomatic stance during the celebratory meeting, committee chairman Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) drew political lessons from the recent escalation of rocket fire in the South.
“Hamas has strengthened significantly relative to its condition before Operation Cast Lead and certainly relative to afterward,” he said, complaining that Israel’s deterrence had been eroded in the ensuing two years.
“One of Diskin’s greatest achievements was to cause the disappearance in minutes of the biggest murderers that ever rose against us in Gaza and Judea and Samaria,” Mofaz continued.
“In times like these, in the situation that we find ourselves with one million citizens under the threat of rocket fire, the political leadership should adopt the deterrent tool that you were central in developing.
“I recommend that the government take a step up and create deterrence, which can be achieved if decision-makers in Hamas and Islamic Jihad understand that Israel will not reconcile itself to a situation in which every week or two there is a planned escalation,” he added.