Israel prevented Iran from becoming N. Korea - Eisenkot

It's “absurd” that the government has not been able to decide what to do about the settlement of Homesh, he said.

Former IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot speaking at Netanya Academic College. (photo credit: TAMIR BERGIG/NETANYA ACADEMIC COLLEGE)
Former IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot speaking at Netanya Academic College.
(photo credit: TAMIR BERGIG/NETANYA ACADEMIC COLLEGE)

Israeli operations have prevented Iran from becoming a nuclear threat akin to North Korea for around 17 years, former IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot said on Wednesday.

“Iran would have been a nuclear power 17 years ago” without Israeli operations and US interventions to thwart its progress, he said at the Meir Dagan Conference at Netanya Academic College.

“Imagine if Iran was like North Korea in the Middle East,” said the former IDF chief.

“We need to work hard to keep Iran and ISIS” at bay from presenting a “mega threat,” he said. “Iran still is pushing forward on its desire for nuclear weapons, wants hegemony, wants precision-guided missiles to strike from afar – to erase [Israel] from the region.”

Homesh

In addition, he said it was “absurd” that the government has not been able to decide what to do about the settlement of Homesh, with an ongoing debate on whether to demolish it or not.

Former IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot (credit: TAMIR BARGIG)Former IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot (credit: TAMIR BARGIG)

Pointedly, he did not say what the government should do, though it appeared he supported demolition.

The current government, like the previous government of Benjamin Netanyahu, was failing to handle such issues with a broader strategic vision, Eisenkot said.

Those who declared on Tuesday that the public corruption trial against former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be dead are jumping the gun, former police chief Roni Alsheich said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the Meir Dagan Conference at Netanya Academic College, Alsheich, who was the police chief who recommended indicting Netanyahu in 2018, was responding to questions about the trial after a major win for Netanyahu’s defense team on Tuesday.

The Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday rejected the prosecution’s key request in the Netanyahu trial to amend its Case 4000 indictment narrative, while approving a more minor request to amend the Case 1000 narrative.

The rejection was a major setback for the prosecution, but the judges notably left the door open to a conviction using an esoteric provision of the law.

On May 15, in a stunning reversal, the prosecution filed the request to amend the indictment.

According to the request, the state would back off from giving an exact week when an alleged key meeting took place between Netanyahu and key prosecution witness Shlomo Filber. Instead, it would claim that the meeting took place without giving a date – other than saying it was around the time when Filber was appointed Communications Ministry director-general.

The reversal came after a win by the defense when they used a mix of GPS cellphone location data as well as data from the Prime Minister’s Office security clearance records to demonstrate that Filber could not have met with Netanyahu at the time that the prosecution said the critical meeting took place.

The revelation might be the single most important factual victory by the defense to date in undermining aspects of the prosecution’s narrative.

Alsheich refused to get into the details of the trial, saying it was problematic to lean on the judges and they should be allowed to decide without pressure.

However, he said he stood by the police investigation as having gone above and beyond to get to the truth and remained confident in their work.

He added that former attorney-general Avichai Mandelblit had sometimes limited the police from certain investigative activities.

Alsheich also went head to head with former Supreme Court deputy chief justice Hanan Melcer and Israel Democracy Institute privacy rights expert Tehilla Shwartz-Altshuler over whether the police use of new technologies to hack cell phones and computers has been in line with the law or whether charges of abuse of power from the Pegasus scandal are true.

Shwartz-Altshuler accused the police of violating privacy rights in a broad fashion and of refusing to provide statistics, even without naming cases, to support its contention that its new technologies are saving lives.

The former police chief took umbrage at this and insisted that anything controversial is approved by senior judges with full access to police cyber intelligence.

Melcer took a somewhat middle-of-the-road position, saying that most police provide all relevant evidence to judges properly, but he nonetheless cited a group of minority cases where police did not present judges with all relevant evidence or did not comply with all court instructions.

Shwartz-Altshuler was most concerned that police abuse has run rampant for years; Melcer wanted to prevent criminals from using the digital sphere to perpetrate crimes; and Alsheich was focused on overcoming challenges with technology to identify cyber-criminals, so that they could be indicted.

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert gave an in-depth look at how the prime minister manages conflict and the different talents and capabilities of the Mossad, IDF intelligence and other security agencies.

Tamir Pardo, a former Mossad chief, lashed into the Knesset and Israel’s recent past and current political leadership for “lulling the nation to sleep” to avoid making tough decisions about setting borders with the Palestinians.

He said that the debates about the Jerusalem Day flag march were ridiculous and distracted from the real issue that every Israeli government has mistreated the Arabs of east Jerusalem, while failing to fully unite the city and annex the West Bank, since that would bring a wave of global sanctions.