June 2, 2011 Former Mossad Head Attacks Netanyahu Government - History

June 2, 2011 Former Mossad Head Attacks Netanyahu Government - History

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

June 2, 2011 Former Mossad Head Attacks Netanyahu Government

The news in Israel today was dominated by the speech given by the former head of the Mossad, Meir Degan. The speech had two major elements; the first, a warning against a military attack on Iran, which Degan seemed to indicate is under serious consideration by the government. Degan made clear that while he did not believe in removing the possibility of a military strike from the agenda, it should be used only as the last possible resort. Degan added that Israel might know how to begin a war with Iran, however it did not know how to end it. Furthermore, a military strike could only delay the Iranian program by a few years; not stop it. After the strike, he went on, Iran would certainly consider Israel a legitimate target for a relataliatory attack. Second, Degan criticized the failure of the government to come forth with any realistic peace plan. He compared the government's current position, and its lack of actions, to Israel just prior to the Yom Kippur War. This was a very troubling speech by someone in the know.

Two articles that are worth while, the best one, by Ari Shavit in today's Haaretz, entitled: There Will be No Peace With the Palestinians. This article does an excellent job of "telling it like it is." A friend asked me last week shouldn't Israel be doing more for peace? After all, isn't there a great opportunity for peace now? I answered, and believe as Shavit does, that there is little chance for peace, for there is not chance that an empowered Arab world is going to accept a peace agreement that both Arafat and Abbas walked away from. However, it is for that very reason that the policies of the Israeli government over the past two years (and especially over the past few months) have been so disastrous. This was the time to call the Palestinian bluff; and once again offer them most of what they claim to want, in return for their full accepting of Israel's legitimacy and finding an alternative to the return of the Refugees to Israel. They will never accept that deal. Unfortunately, the world will not remember the Palestinian refusals; they will be too busy remembering the demands Netanyahu made, instead of the accomodations he might have offered.

The other article was today posting by Donniel Hartman A Moment to Breathe and Act


Mossad, [a] is the national intelligence agency of Israel. It is one of the main entities in the Israeli Intelligence Community, along with Aman (military intelligence) and Shin Bet (internal security).

Mossad is responsible for intelligence collection, covert operations, and counter-terrorism. It is separate from the democratic institutions of Israel because no law defines its purpose, objectives, roles, missions, powers or budget, and because it is exempt from the constitutional laws of the State of Israel, Mossad has been described as a deep state. [1] Its director answers directly and only to the Prime Minister. Its annual budget is estimated to be around 10 billion shekels (US$2.73 billion) and it is estimated that it employs around 7,000 people directly, making it the one of the world's largest espionage agencies. [2]

Naftali Bennett Becomes New Israeli Prime Minister as Netanyahu Vows 'We Will Come Back'

Israel's parliament the Knesset on Sunday approved a new coalition government, ousting longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and making Naftali Bennett the new head of government.

Netanyahu had held the role for 12 years, making him the longest-serving prime minister in Israel's history. The Israeli politician, mired in controversy and charged with corruption, had already failed to form a sustainable government after four elections within just two years.

"This is a holiday for the press but a difficult day for millions of citizens of Israel," Netanyahu, who leads the right-wing Likud party, told reporters, according to The Jerusalem Post. "I ask you not to lose your spirits. We will come back."

Bennett struck a conciliatory tone at the beginning of a speech ahead of the Knesset's confidence vote, thanking Netanyahu for his leadership of Israel.

"Thank you to the outgoing Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for your many years of service, replete with achievements, for the sake of the State of Israel. As Prime Minister you acted throughout many years to embolden Israel's political, security, and economic strength," the new prime minister said.

Bennett also addressed issues within Israel. Many within the new government and the country saw Netanyahu's divisive politics as stoking tensions between different factions within the country, particularly as the latest Gaza war unfolded last month.

"At this time, we are also facing an internal challenge. The ongoing rift in the nation, as we see in these very moments, which continues to rip apart the seams that hold us together, and has thrown us&mdashone election after another&mdashinto a maelstrom of hatred and in-fighting," he said.

The new coalition has already faced skepticism, as the eight political parties within the new government vary widely along the ideological spectrum. Bennett, who leads the right-wing Yamina party, managed to bring together a coalition of right and left-wing parties. For the first time in more than 40 years, an Arab political party will be part of the ruling government as well.

The groups were largely united by their desire to oust Netanyahu in a bid to end political paralysis. Netanyahu remains the head of the largest political party in the Knesset, and Bennett's government was only approved by the narrowest margin in a 60-to-59 vote.

President Joe Biden quickly extended his congratulations to Bennett and the new government.

"On behalf of the American people, I congratulate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and all the members of the new Israeli cabinet. I look forward to working with Prime Minister Bennett to strengthen all aspects of the close and enduring relationship between our two nations," the president said.

He asserted that Israel "has no better friend than the United States. The bond that unites our people is evidence of our shared values and decades of close cooperation, and as we continue to strengthen our partnership, the United States remains unwavering in its support for Israel's security."

Under the coalition's agreement, Bennett will retain the role of prime minister for two years before political centrist Yair Lapid assumes the role. As of Sunday, Lapid assumed the role of foreign minister.

Videos shared online showed thousands of Israelis cheering and rallying in the streets following Netanyahu's ouster.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates Israel's longest-serving prime ministers.

This story was updated with additional information and background.

Netanyahu prepared to attack Iran in 2011: Ex-spy chief

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

The former head of Israel&rsquos Mossad intelligence agency has said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had ordered the military to prepare to attack Iran &ldquowithin 15 days&rdquo back in 2011.

Ex-Mossad chief Tamir Pardo made the assertion during a Thursday interview with Israel&rsquos Channel 2.

Pardo, who headed the Mossad from 2011 to 2016, did not give the exact date of the incident, but said Netanyahu had told army commanders to prepare for deployment &ldquoat any moment&rdquo.

Asked if whether he believed Netanyahu&rsquos order had been serious, Pardo said that it was.

&ldquoThis isn&rsquot something you do merely to test your army&rsquos capabilities,&rdquo Pardo told the broadcaster. &ldquoEither you mean it or you&rsquore sending a signal to the U.S.&rdquo

Ultimately, Pardo said, Netanyahu had backed down due to opposition from Israeli military officials, including then army chief Benny Gantz.

For decades, Israel-Iran relations have been characterized by deep animosity. While Tehran views Israel as its primary enemy, the Jewish state insists that Iran must be stopped from attaining a nuclear arsenal.

David Barnea, former top agent, appointed next Mossad chief

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday that the next director of Israel’s Mossad espionage agency will be David Barnea, 56, a veteran of the organization who has been its deputy head for the past two years.

Barnea, who is also known by his nickname Dedi, will replace outgoing director Yossi Cohen, Netanyahu said at the annual ceremony conferring the Prime Minister’s Award for exceptional Mossad officers.

Barnea’s top task, the prime minister declared, “is to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”

The appointment of Barnea, a married father of four, was expected. He served as a combat soldier in the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit and has been in the Mossad for the past 25 years, including in prominent operational roles that saw him rise to lead the branch that handles the organization’s agents worldwide.

He was appointed Cohen’s deputy in 2019, and will take over as director on June 1.

The appointment was held up for months — Netanyahu announced he had chosen Cohen’s replacement back in December, though the name was kept secret until Monday — by legal concerns as to whether an interim government is permitted to appoint a Mossad director. But Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit informed Netanyahu recently that he saw no legal impediments, and the appointment went ahead.

“I wish [Barnea] all success in the post, and I’m convinced the incoming Mossad director will do great things and will continue to lead the Mossad to operational successes and meaningful achievements,” Cohen said in a brief statement at the event.

Barnea’s appointment was welcomed by President Reuven Rivlin, who wished him luck.

“Dear Dedi, I have no doubt that you will lead our excellent Mossad members with professionalism, wisdom, and courage,” Rivlin said in a statement . “I am confident that your diverse and impressive abilities and your many years of service for the country will guide you on your path to ensuring the security and operational superiority of Israel.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz also wished Barnea luck and thanked Cohen for “building new abilities for the Mossad and leading daring and significant operations.”

“The defense apparatus will continue to work closely with the Mossad and will help with any necessary task in the important battle to safeguard the security of Israel,” Gantz added.

Cohen has served as head of the Mossad since January 2016. He has reportedly served as Netanyahu’s special envoy for various tasks, and is said to be seen by Netanyahu as his preferred successor as prime minister.

Cohen played a prominent role in recent deals to normalize ties with Arab countries. He traveled to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, as the US brokered deals between them and Israel.

He also reportedly joined Netanyahu on a 2020 visit to Saudi Arabia, for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Saudi Arabia denies the meeting occurred.

Cohen was linked to Israel’s killing last year of top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, although Israel has not commented on the incident.

AFP contributed to this report.

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Amid New Threat Of War, Former Mossad Chief Admits Israel Had 2011 Plan To Attack Iran

A s critics warn that President Donald Trump has dramatically intensified the threat of war with Iran, the former head of Israel’s spy agency disclosed in a television interview on Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did, in fact, order the military to prepare a preemptive an attack on Iran back in 2011.

The interview with Tamir Pardo, who served as as Mossad chief from 2011 to 2016, aired Thursday on the Israeli investigative program “Uvda.”

“When [Netanyahu] tells you to start the countdown process, you know that he isn’t playing games with you,” Pardo told anchor Ilana Dayan about the order for the military to prepare to attack Iran within 15 days, according to excerpts of the interview.

“If someone does that then it has two [possible] purposes: One purpose is that he really means [to attack] and the other option is that he is sending a signal, that someone out there should know,” he said.

“It’s possible that someone in the United States would hear about it in one form or another, and that would motivate him to do something,” Pardo said.

Pardo explained that he then sought to verify the legality of such an order. “I checked with previous Mossad chiefs. I checked with legal advisers. I consulted anyone I could consult in order to understand who is authorized to give instructions about the whole issue of starting a war,” he said, saying that such a strike would “certainly” amount to starting a war.

The possibility of the military action caused Pardo to consider resigning, but his objection and that of then-IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz led Netanyahu to drop the plans, Haaretz adds.

Ex-Mossad chief signals Israel attacked Iran nuclear assets

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The outgoing chief of Israel's Mossad intelligence service has offered the closest acknowledgment yet his country was behind recent attacks targeting Iran's nuclear program and a military scientist.

The comments by Yossi Cohen, speaking to Israel's Channel 12 investigative program “Uvda” in a segment aired Thursday night, offered an extraordinary debriefing by the head of the typically secretive agency in what appears to be the final days of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rule.

It also gave a clear warning to other scientists in Iran's nuclear program that they too could become targets for assassination even as diplomats in Vienna try to negotiate terms to try to salvage its atomic accord with world powers.

“If the scientist is willing to change career and will not hurt us anymore, than yes, sometimes we offer them" a way out, Cohen said.

Among the major attacks to target Iran, none have struck deeper than two explosions over the last year at its Natanz nuclear facility. There, centrifuges enrich uranium from an underground hall designed to protect them from airstrikes.

Discussing Natanz, the interviewer asked Cohen where he'd take them if they could travel there. Cohen said “to the cellar" where “the centrifuges used to spin.”

“It doesn't look like it used to look,” he added.

Cohen did not directly claim the attacks, but his specificity offered the closest acknowledgement yet of an Israeli hand in the attacks. The interviewer, journalist Ilana Dayan, also seemingly offered a detailed description in a voiceover of how Israel snuck the explosives into Natanz's underground halls.

“The man who was responsible for these explosions, it becomes clear, made sure to supply to the Iranians the marble foundation on which the centrifuges are placed,” Dayan said. "As they install this foundation within the Natanz facility, they have no idea that it already includes an enormous amount of explosives.”

They also discussed the November killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an Iranian scientist who began Tehran's military nuclear program decades ago. U.S. intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency believe Iran abandoned that organized effort at seeking a nuclear weapon in 2003. Iran long has maintained its program is peaceful.

While Cohen on camera doesn't claim the killing, Dayan in the segment described Cohen as having "personally signed off on the entire campaign.” Dayan also described how a remotely operated machine gun fixed to a pickup truck killed Fakhrizadeh and later self-destructed.

Cohen described an Israeli effort to dissuade Iranian scientists from taking part in the program, which had seen some abandon their work after being warned, even indirectly, by Israel. Asked by the interviewer if the scientists understood the implications if they didn't stop, Cohen said: “They see their friends.”

They also talked about Israel's operation seizing archival documents from Iran's military nuclear program. Dayan said 20 agents, none Israelis, seized material from 32 safes, then scanned and transmitted a large portion of the documents. Cohen confirmed that the Mossad received most of the material before it was physically taken out of Iran.

Cohen defended Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to go public with the results of the operation, going against a long-standing practice of secrecy involving Mossad activities.

“It was important to us that the world will see this, but this thing should also resonate with the Iranian leadership, to tell them, ‘Dear friends: One, you have been infiltrated. Two, we see you.. Three, the era of . lies is over,'” Cohen said.

Media in Israel operate under a decades-old policy that requires journalists to clear stories involving security matters through military censors. That Cohen's remarks apparently cleared the censors suggests Israel wanted to issue a new warning to Iran amid the Vienna nuclear negotiations.

Iran has repeatedly complained about Israel's attacks, with Iran's ambassador to the IAEA Kazem Gharibabadi warning as recently as Thursday that the incidents “not only will be responded to decisively, but also certainly leave no option for Iran but to reconsider its transparency measures and cooperation policy.”

Shahrokh Nazemi, a spokesman for Iran's mission to the United Nations, told The Associated Press early Saturday that Cohen's comments reflected a long-running pattern of “criminal” sabotage against Tehran that includes the Stuxnet computer virus attack on Natanz over a decade ago.

“This lawlessness has reached a point when the former official of this regime is shamelessly and blatantly threatening our nuclear scientists with death,” Nazemi said. “This madness must not be tolerated.”

Cohen, who was replaced by former operative David Barnea, acknowledged in the interview he might one day seek the prime minister's office himself.

Associated Press writer Karin Laub in Amman, Jordan, contributed to this report.

Israel government 'reckless and irresponsible' says ex-Mossad chief

The former head of Israel's spy service has launched an unprecedented attack on the country's current government, describing it as "irresponsible and reckless", and has praised Arab attempts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

Meir Dagan stepped down as the head of Mossad six months ago but has gone on the offensive in a series of briefings with journalists and public appearances because he feels that Israel's security is being mismanaged by Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, and Ehud Barak, the defence minister.

One newspaper quotes him as saying that he, as head of Mossad, Yuval Diskin, the head of Sin Bet – the internal security agency, and Gabi Ashkenazi, the head of the army, could prevent Netanyahu and Barak from making mistakes but all three have left their positions and have been replaced by men chosen by the current government.

"I decided to speak because when I was in office, Diskin, Ashkenazi and I could block any dangerous adventure. Now I am afraid that there is no one to stop Bibi [Netanyahu] and Barak," said Dagan.

Upon leaving his post, Dagan publicly warned against Israel attacking Iran to stop it from acquiring nuclear weapons.

In his latest comments, he said that if Israel attacks Iran, it will find itself at the centre of a regional war that would endanger the state's existence. Dagan's intervention is dangerous for Netanyahu because it comes from the right wing of Israeli opinion rather than the left, where the prime minister would expect criticism.

Dagan has been in charge of aggressive Israeli actions abroad in recent years, that have included assassinations in Lebanon, Syria and Dubai and an air attack on a suspected nuclear reactor in Syria. He also criticised Israel's failure to offer any initiative to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians .

The absence of any workable plan, he said, will leave Israel in a dangerous and weak situation if the Palestinians push for UN recognition of a state later this year.

Dagan also endorsed Saudi Arabia's peace plan which offered Israel normal relations with all Arab countries if it reaches a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Leading columnist Ari Shavit summarised Dagan's point of view in the Ha'aretz newspaper: "Dagan is extremely concerned about September 2011. He is not afraid that tens of thousands of demonstrators may overrun the settlements. He is afraid that Israel's subsequent isolation will push its leaders to the wall and cause them to take reckless action against Iran."

Ben Caspit of the Maariv newspaper wrote: "He is one of the most rightwing militant people ever born here . who ate Arabs for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

"When this man says that the leadership has no vision and is irresponsible, we should stop sleeping soundly at night."

Dagan was quoted in the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth describing Netanyahu and Barak as "irresponsible and reckless individuals".

Dagan's criticism of Netanyahu comes when the prime minister is enjoying popular support following his trip to Washington and his speech to Congress.

Opinion polls suggest that Netanyahu has a nine-point lead over his nearest challenger and his Likud party is the most popular in the country.

However, Dagan's intervention suggests that while Netanyahu is seen as an able performer in public, he believes that behind the scenes he is less astute.

A spokesman for the prime minister said that he would not discuss Dagan's comments. However members of the cabinet told the Israeli media: "Dagan was out of line on the Iranian issue. This damages deterrence, because the military option must be on the table as a credible option after sanctions.

"If you come and say, 'we can't attack Iran, it's impossible,' you project weakness to the Iranians and make it look like you don't have the courage to do it, and that they can do whatever they want.

"More seriously, it sends a message to the world that they can take their foot off the gas pedal of sanctions."

Barak– Netanyahu was on verge of Attacking Iran 3 Times 2010-12 (Why Listening to him on Iran Diplomacy is Daft)

In a radio interview, former Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak revealed that the government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was on the verge of attacking Iran on 3 separate occasions in 2010-2012, but was consistently blocked by other (even far right wing) cabinet ministers or by the military chief of staff.

Although Netanyahu consistently depicts Iran as a military aggressor, that country hasn’t attacked another in a conventional war in modern history, whereas Israel has repeatedly launched wars of aggression, including 1956, 1967, 1982, 2009 and 2014. (The 1982 Israeli act of naked aggression on Lebanon eventuated in an 18-year occupation of 10% of Lebanon, during which Lebanese Shiites formed Hizbullah to resist their oppression Iran’s support for this resistance is typically held against it by the US and Israel as ‘support for terrorism,’ while Washington’s and Tel Aviv’s support for the illegal invasion and occupation are considered perfectly normal.)

Israel has several hundred nuclear warheads, whereas Iran has none, but Iran has been sanctioned for its civilian nuclear enrichment program for generating electricity whereas Israel thumbed its nose at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and kicked off a nuclear arms race with Iraq that led, ironically and through propaganda, to the 2003 US invasion of that country.

The Iran attack plans were previously revealed by former Israeli intelligence chief Meir Dagan, who clearly considers Netanyahu and Barak to have a screw loose and to be terminally flaky. His allegations have been covered by Informed Comment, as below from March:

“Meir Dagan, the former head of Israeli intelligence, has long been on the outs with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Now he is actively campaigning for the Israeli electorate to dump him as prime minister in the upcoming elections. Soon after leaving office four years ago, he broke longstanding protocol to retail the story in public of how he and other security officials vetoed a hare-brained scheme by Netanyahu and former Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak to attack Iran.

“Netanyahu appears to have forced out Meir Dagan, the head of the Israeli spying agency Mossad, whose departure coincided with that of the chief of staff, the head of domestic intelligence, and other key security officials. Dagan, having become a civilian, promptly went public, lambasting Netanyahu for refusing to make peace with the Palestinians while it was still possible.

Dagan went on to accuse Netanyahu and his Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, of grossly exaggerating the threat from Iran, calling a strike on that country “stupid idea that offers no advantage.” He warned that it would provoke another rocket attack on Israel by Lebanon’s Hizbullah, and perhaps by Syria as well– i.e. it could lead to a regional conflagration.

The back story that has emerged in the Israeli press is that Barak, who is a notorious war-monger and adventurist, had gotten Netanyahu’s ear and pressed for a military strike on Iran. Dagan and all the other major security officials stood against this foolhardy plan, and managed to derail it. But Dagan is said to be concerned that virtually all the level heads have gone out of office together, and that Netanyahu and Barak may now be in a position to revive their crazy plan of attacking Iran. Moreover, they may want to attack in September, as a way of creating a crisis that will overshadow Palestinian plans to seek membership in the United Nations.

Dagan and other high Israeli security officials appear to believe that Iran has no present nuclear weapons program. That is what Military Intelligence Director, Brigadier General Aviv Kochavi, has told the Israeli parliament. Kochavi thinks it unlikely that Iran would start up a military nuclear program.”

Dagan’s beef with Netanyahu is apparently not personal. The prime minister helped the former head of Mossad get a liver transplant. Dagan affirmed, “I have no personal issue with the prime minister, his wife, his spending and the way he conducts himself. I’m talking about the country he leads.”

Netanyahu clearly believes that he can openly side with the Republican Congress against President Barack Obama without facing any consequences at all. Dagan sees a danger that the next time the UN Security Council wants to condemn Israel for violating international law, Obama will decline to use his veto to stop sanctions.

Israel is in violation of large numbers of UN Security Council resolutions regarding its treatment of the stateless Palestinians, the status of Jerusalem, etc. etc. That Iraq was in violation of UNSC violations was given by the Bush administration as a grounds for invading Iraq and overthrowing Saddam Hussein in 2003. Iran’s economy has been deeply harmed and its oil exports cut from 2.5 mn b/day to 1.5 mn b/day as a result of UNSC sanctions, along with those of the US. Israel, in contrast, as been held harmless from Security Council condemnation and sanctions by the US veto, which has been exercised every single time the UNSC tried to condemn or sanction Tel Aviv, regardless of the merits of the case.

I have argued that any US president, including Obama, could have long since resolved the Israel-Palestinian conflict by simply declining to exercise that veto, and allowing the Israelis to be pressured into making peace by the UNSC. I think the PLO would make peace tomorrow if it could get 1967 borders and an end to Israeli land grabs, and that the real obstacle to a settlement is Israeli expansionism, which the US veto de fact encourages.

Israel is also facing significant challenges from the UN in another way. Palestine has been granted non-member observer state status there by the General Assembly. It has signed the treaties and instruments necessary to joining the International Criminal Court and gaining standing to sue Israel over its creeping annexation of Palestinian territory beyond the generally recognized 1949 armistice lines. The Rome Statute of 2002 under which the International Criminal Court operates forbids colonization of other people’s territory, prohibiting

“The transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory”

If Palestine sues in the ICC, it seems to me certain that Israel would lose. The PLO seems increasingly to be moving in this direction.

So Dagan sees a world where Israeli military action like last summer’s attack on Gaza was almost universally condemned where Palestine may successfully take Israel to the ICC (where the US has no veto), where boycotts of Israel could grow and where an angry US president might start declining to veto all UNSC resolutions against Israel.

“As someone who has served Israel in various security capacities for 45 years, including during the country’s most difficult hours, I feel that we are now at a critical point regarding our existence and our security.

“Our standing in the world is not brilliant right now. The question of Israel’s legitimacy is up for debate. We should not erode our relations with our most important friend. Certainly not in public, certainly not by becoming involved in its domestic politics. This is not proper behaviour for a prime minister…”

“An Israeli prime minister who clashes with the US administration has to ask himself what the risks are. On the matter of settlements, there is no difference between the two [US] parties. And even so, they provide us with a veto umbrella. In a situation of a confrontation, this umbrella is liable to vanish, and within a short time, Israel could find itself facing international sanctions.

“The risks of such a clash are intolerable. We are already today paying a high price. Some of them I know and cannot elaborate.

“I would not have confronted the United States and its president. Netanyahu may get applause in Congress, but all the power is in the White House. What will Netanyahu gain by addressing Congress? I just don’t understand it. Is his goal to get a standing ovation? This trip to Washington is doomed to failure.”

I think it is undeniable that by making Israel a partisan GOP issue, Netanyahu risks undermining the bipartisan consensus in favor of knee-jerk support of Tel Aviv’s vast land thefts from the Palestinians.

Whether Dagan is exaggerating the risks Netanyahu is taking or not, it is significant that many figures formerly in high positions in the Israeli security sector are openly coming out against Netanyahu, whom they clearly see as unhinged and flaky and a danger to the future of Israel.”

Former Mossad chief Yatom recalls failed assassination attempt on Hamas head

JERUSALEM -- In 1997, agents of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad were in Jordan, a neighbor and ally, to kill Khaled Mashal, then the political head of Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas.

The attempt failed, and the 61-year-old Mashal led Hamas until this past May.

The author of the assassination plan was then Mossad chief Danny Yatom, now 72, who recently spoke to the Mainichi Shimbun about the details of the failed assassination attempt, which shows the dangers of pre-emptive strikes for "self-defense" -- justified by both Israel and the United States as "anti-terror measures."

In the Six-Day War of June 1967, Israel captured and absorbed territories including the West Bank of the Jordan River and East Jerusalem. Facing resistance from the local Palestinian population, Israel sought to "nip the terrorist threat in the bud" by assassinating key militant group members.

Thirty years later, beset by Hamas suicide bombings, then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Israel's security services to draw up a revenge plan. Reprisal attacks are banned under international law, but nevertheless Yatom drew up a list of people to be assassinated, and Netanyahu approved it. However, Yatom told the Mainichi that the prime minister then said that "it should preferably be Mashal."

Mashal was then the head of Hamas' political wing, but Yatom said that the Palestinian "was and is the supreme commander of Hamas." It also appears that Israel was attempting to regain some face by taking out the "face" of the militant group.

Mossad is under the direct control of the Israeli prime minister, and there are no specific written provisions on agency activities, including assassination operations. For the Mashal hit, Yatom said he "chose a very quiet method.

"The reason was that Jordan . was still a sensitive location. I did not want to humiliate the Jordanians." Yatom continued that, with the "silent method," "if someone stops and searches you just a second before the execution, they will not find anything incriminating. This way, once the operation succeeds, it would have looked as if Mashal died of natural causes."

Yatom refused to name the chemical agent used, but there are reports that a substance easily absorbed by the human body -- which contains the synthetic sedative fentanyl said to be 200 times more potent than morphine -- had been manufactured at the Israel Institute for Biological Research. The institute is under the jurisdiction of the prime minister's office.

If Mashal had died suddenly and mysteriously, Yatom said, Mossad was certain people would soon speculate that Israel had been behind it, "even if there was nothing to signal (our involvement)." This would have made for even stronger deterrence than "a bullet in the forehead" on the street. Yatom added that the Mashal hit was in part a psychological operation, intended to make other Hamas leaders wonder if they were next.

On Sept. 25, 1997, on a street in the Jordanian capital Amman, someone put an unknown liquid on Mashal's exposed skin, and the Palestinian fell into a coma. Two of the eight Mossad agents in the city were taken into custody. Four others fled to the Israeli Embassy, which was surrounded by Jordanian security forces. In return for letting the Mossad agents go, Jordan demanded the poison's chemical formula and its antidote. If Mashal died, the Jordanian government declared, then the peace treaty with Israel would die with him.

About half of Jordan's population is made up of Palestinians who lost their land when Israel was founded. If the Jordanian authorities looked weak in their response to the Mashal operation, it would invite a backlash from local Palestinians, possibly destabilizing the country.

Netanyahu did provide the antidote, but would initially not give up the poison's chemical formula as it was "national property." Eventually, U.S. President Bill Clinton intervened, and pressured Israel into handing over the formula as well.

The antidote was administered to Mashal, who woke up two days later. Yatom noted that no terrorist ever brought down by a security agency had ever been revived like that before, and called the operation Mossad's greatest failure.

State-sponsored assassinations are considered one form of pre-emptive strike. The Rand Corporation, a U.S. think tank, categorizes the Mashal operation as just such a strike, along with the Israeli air attack on an Iraqi nuclear plant in 1981. Menachem Begin, Israel's prime minister at the time, insisted that his country had acted in self-defense as provided for by Chapter 7, Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

This approach was known thereafter as the "Begin doctrine," and is used extensively today to justify drone strike assassinations. However, three conditions were originally needed to fulfill the right to self-defense defined under Article 51: that there be an imminent and unlawful violation that there be no other methods available to avert that violation and that military action be kept to the absolute minimum necessary for self-defense.

Judgments on whether an action meets these conditions are not made public, and they can be interpreted subjectively and self-righteously, meaning there is always a danger of their misinterpretation or abuse.

Watch the video: June 2 2011