Dichter defends Ya'alon's remarks on Israel's defense capability

Former IDF Chief asserts Israel has viable military option against Iran.

iaf plane f-15i 29888idf (photo credit: IDF)
iaf plane f-15i 29888idf
(photo credit: IDF)
Former Shin Bet head and Kadima MK candidate Avi Dichter came on Saturday to the defense of former IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. (Res.) Moshe Ya'alon's assertion that Israel could defend itself against an Iranian nuclear attack. Ya'alon's remarks drew a barrage of criticism from officials who accused him of divulging military secrets. Dichter said that while he might have chosen to refrain from certain statements that Ya'alon made, he identified with the former chief of staff's message that Israel was much more secure than Iran, despite the threat posed by the possibility of Iran achieving nuclear capability, Israel Radio reported. Former Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon defended his statement concerning the West's military option against Iran and said he did not reveal any military secrets by talking about the ability to strike Iran's nuclear sites. Ya'alon came under fire in Israel over the weekend following a speech he gave at the Hudson Institute in Washington in which he argued that Israel and the West can launch an attack which will put the Iranian nuclear project back several years. "I don't understand the uproar in Israel", Ya'alon told Israel's channel 1 TV on Friday' "nothing from what I said should harm Israel's national security". He pointed out that he did not emphasize Israel's role in such possible attack and that he stressed the fact that it could be a joint effort by the US, NATO and Israel. Asked if he would repeat his remarks again, Ya'alon answered "certainly" and said that the reason he brought up the issue of the military option against Iran was to serve the interests of Israel and the West. "The need to raise this now is because of the discussion going on in the West, which includes what I see as a baseless claim that there is no military option. That is why it was important for me to say what I said without hurting Israel's security". In his speech last week Ya'alon said that Israel, the US and the European can launch a joint air strike against dozens of nuclear sites in Iran and lead to a delay of several years in the Iranian ability to achieve a nuclear bomb. Ya'alon predicted that if it is not disturbed by the West, Iran can acquire the nuclear know-how within 6-18 months and have a bomb in 3 to 5 years. On Friday, after hearing the harsh reactions in Israel to his speech, Ya'alon said that not one of those who criticized him in Israel bothered to call him up and ask about his remarks. "The uproar is coming from sources that are not relevant to this issue and might cause more damage to Israel than the remarks themselves", Ya'alon added. The former Chief of Staff is now in the US as a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and is expected to return to Israel in June.