Dagan: Israel less of a strategic asset for US

Mossad head tells Knesset c'tee Iran encountering "unexpected technological barriers" in nuclear endeavor.

meir dagan 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
meir dagan 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Israel’s role as a strategic asset for the United States has declined in recent years, Mossad Chief Meir Dagan told members of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee during a Tuesday hearing. In his biennial briefing of the closed-door committee, Dagan painted a pessimistic picture of Israel’s position in a radicalizing Middle East with an American ally less supportive than in previous years.
“The security situation in the Middle East today is more complex and more complicated than before, and we are dealing with challenges that we never faced in the past,” Dagan told the MKs. “The pragmatic camp is becoming weaker and the radical side is gaining a certain type of power.”
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Dagan attributed part of the new environment in the region to a change in US foreign policy. “The US ability to solve conflicts is restricted because of her policy that emphasizes the use of  soft power and its  unwillingness to use force to solve conflicts, which restricts America’s ability to initialize processes and create a difference.”
In the course of his briefing, Dagan emphasized that the Mossad’s analysis of the current conditions regarding America was based solely on professional analyses of publicly-accessible information.
“Israel’s relations with America undoubtedly impact our room for diplomatic movement,” continued Dagan. “There is less collaboration between the two countries and the American government thinks that Israel’s actions regarding the conflict are not in accordance with their perspective regarding the resolution to the conflict, which is a solution based on the 1967 border.”
“Israel is less of an asset to the United States,” Dagan warned the MKs. “When there was a conflict between the blocs, Israel was an asset and today it has declined. America’s first priorities as Obama defined them  in 2009 is first the end of the Iraqi conflict, eliminating al-Qaida and ending the Afghan issue, and in the second are restricting nuclear weapons and taking care of Iran, Palestine, and Korea. The American decision to support the recent nuclear resolution in the United Nations, whereas in the past they would have opposed it – comes as a  result of a change in the American agenda.”
Dagan added that the settlements, a hot topic in Israeli circles, was seen in the eyes of the American government as “an annoyance or a spoiler to the American administration.”
A number of MKs, including Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) and Aryeh Eldad (National Union) asked Dagan about the likelihood of a resolution being forced upon Israel against the government’s will. Dagan said that it had been discussed in the past between Israel and the US. “The idea mostly serves as a threat between the two sides, but one must take into consideration that the idea still exists and must take it into account in the future.” Dagan said, however that he does not believe that it is America’s preferred option.
Dagan also discussed the growing and improving relations among Turkey, Syria and Iran. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has, he said, “a dream of returning Turkey’s dominance through going down the Islamic hall. He believes that through Hamas and Palestinians, additional doors will be opened for him in the Arab street.” To that end, he said, Turkey is also improving relations with Syria and Iran and they are forming a new anti-Israel coalition.
On the brighter side, Dagan told MKs that in 2009, Iran encountered “unexpected technological barriers and are not advancing as planned on their nuclear weapons project.”
“Achieving the bomb,” Dagan predicted “will take them more time than they had planned.”