Diskin: PM, Barak put own interests before security

Former Shin Bet chief levels sharp criticism over the decision-making process at the highest echelons of Israeli government.

Yuval Diskin (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Yuval Diskin
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak put their own interests before national security, former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin said, generating a barrage of criticism of the two from Center-Left parties.
“Netanyahu is afraid; he zigzags and doesn’t take responsibility. There is a crisis of leadership here, a crisis of values and total contempt for the public,” Diskin said in his first-ever interview with the press, published in Friday’s Yediot Aharonot.
Diskin, who led the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), from 2005 to 2011, described Netanyahu, Barak and then-foreign minister Avigdor Liberman smoking cigars and drinking alcohol during “sensitive and important” meetings on Iran.
“Since 1994, more or less, I have worked closely with prime ministers and defense ministers and seen all kinds of leadership. I saw Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Bibi Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert, and Netanyahu as prime minister again with Barak as defense minister,” Diskin said.
“When I look at this spectrum of leaders, I can say that I felt that for some of them, when the interests of the country opposed their personal interests, the nation came above all,” he continued.
“Unfortunately, my feeling, and that of many in the security forces, is that when we talk about Netanyahu and Barak, their personal, opportunistic, immediate interest takes over anything else.”
Following Diskin’s statements, Center-Left party leaders called the prime minister and defense minister irresponsible, saying they must be removed from their posts.
“The wheel must be removed from Netanyahu’s and Liberman’s hands,” Tzipi Livni said. “Diskin’s revelations require us to switch to a responsible, experienced leadership. The Tzipi Livni Party is the only alternative with leadership experience that can make balanced decisions.”
MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor), a former defense minister, said the lack of trust in Netanyahu by intelligence professionals should scare the citizens of Israel, and that Likud Beytenu should be ashamed.
“Testimony by intelligence leaders involved in the most confidential subjects, which determine the future and fate of Israelis, shows that Netanyahu’s personal interests guide him in making decisions, as opposed to national interests,” Ben- Eliezer said.
“We can see this in his recent declarations about construction in E1 [in Ma’aleh Adumim] and other places, which cause major harm even with our closest allies.”
Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz said that, while he was a minister, he did not see Netanyahu, Barak and Liberman smoking cigars together, but was a witness to their “obsessive desire to use the military option against Iran.”
“From the minute I entered the coalition, there were concrete discussions with me on the subject. I opposed it at that time. My opinion in those talks were that this is not Israel’s private war, and using military power too early will bring a regional missile war,” Mofaz said, adding that Israel got a “small taste” of a war like that in November’s Operation Pillar of Defense.
Kadima was in the government coalition from May 8 to July 17 last year.