Ex-Shin Bet chief says he has no faith in Netanyahu

Outgoing Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin receives a gift from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu upon his retirement last year after six years of service. (Moshe Milner/Flash90)

JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—Former domestic security chief Yuval Diskin blasted Israel’s political and defense leadership at a public gathering Friday night, setting off a weekend of accusations and counter-accusations ranging over the entire political spectrum.

Former Shin Bet director Diskin vented his bile at a small gathering known as the Majdi Forum in the town of Kfar Sava, Army Radio reported. Speaking publicly for the first time since his retirement last year, Diskin said the Israeli leadership suffers from a messiah complex, is morally unfit to govern, can’t wage war, and doesn’t want to make peace.

Diskin said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are “are not fit to hold the steering-wheel of power. I have no faith in the current leadership in Israel and its ability to conduct a war.”

Disking blasted their handling of the Iranian nuclear threat, saying the leadership “presents a false view to the public on the Iranian bomb, as though acting against Iran would prevent a nuclear bomb. But attacking Iran will encourage them to develop a bomb all the faster.”

Diskin also warned that political killings like the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin may reappear in Israel. “There are tens of Jewish extremists in the territories and in Israel who are ready to use firearms against Jews,” he said.

Diskin also blamed the Netanyahu government for the stalled peace process with the Palestinian Authority. “Leave aside all the stories they’re selling to us in the media that we want to talk to Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] but he doesn’t [want to talk to us]. I’m telling you we’re not talking to the Palestinians because this government does not want to talk to the Palestinians, and I was there until a year ago and I know what’s going on in this field from up close.”

Diskin accused the current government of having “no interest in solving anything with the Palestinians. This government knows that if it makes the smallest step in this direction, then the current power base and strong coalition will fall apart. It’s very simple.”

Sources close to Netanyahu responded to the attacks by former Israel Security Agency chief Diskin by calling his comments “irresponsible” and “motivated by personal frustration that he wasn’t chosen to head the Mossad.”

Sources close to Barak responded to Diskin’s comments sarcastically, saying, “We welcome his entrance to politics.”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told Channel 2 on Saturday that Diskin should have resigned as Shin Bet chief if he had no faith in the prime minister and defense minister.

Likud MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen noted that Diskin’s comments were made when early elections are considered likely. “If these are really his opinions about the prime minister and defense minister, we would expect the Shin Bet chief to state them—and to act upon them—in real time, and not to wait for an election year.”

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz stated that Diskin’s comments were “crude and inappropriate,” adding that “if these are his opinions, he should have stated them in the appropriate forums while he was in office.”

Diskin received a vote of support from former Mossad chief Meir Dagan on Sunday at the Jerusalem Post Conference in New York.

Dagan called Diskin “a serious man” who was speaking his own “internal truth.”

Former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi also defended Diskin at the conference. “I know Diskin and he spoke what was on his heart out of genuine concern,” Ashkenazi said.