Former Mossad leader Ephraim Halevy supports negotiations with Iran and Hamas, saying Israel should do its best to minimize any differences in opinion with Washington.
By: Atara Beck, World Israel News
Former Mossad (Israeli intelligence agency) Chief Ephraim Halevy indirectly warned Iran on Tuesday that it would regret any attempt to launch a military attack against Israel.
“Israel is indestructible. That’s important to realize,” the Jerusalem Post quotes him as telling journalists at the Jerusalem Press Club on the eve of Israel’s Memorial Day on Tuesday. “Whatever the Iranians think they can do, they had better not try it, because if they try it, they will regret it.”
The former Mossad chief declined to predict whether or not negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 world powers would lead to a final deal, but he was doubtful that the parties could meet the June deadline for an agreement, the Post reports.
Halevy, who is known as a hard-headed pragmatist, concurred with the position expressed by US Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross in the April 20 issue of Politico Magazine that “the key is not the rollback of the [nuclear] program, but our ability to monitor it. That is what will allow us to determine if the Iranians are living up to the deal and put us in a position to impose severe costs if they are not.”
Ross said he considered the deal “acceptable – provided that the transparency is real, we have assured response mechanisms to any noncompliance that cannot be blocked, and we establish in advance what the consequences or price will be for every category of violation.”
Rather than opposing an agreement, Halevy said he preferred an “outcome that would serve the interests of all countries in the region,” although he did not elaborate on that point.
He criticized Israel’s position regarding an Iranian existential threat, saying it has been overly dramatized and that it raised the level of anxiety among the Israeli public while failing to achieve positive results elsewhere in the world.
Halevy has repeatedly expressed opposition to a preemptive Israeli attack on Iran, voicing support for negotiations with Iran.
Halevy said he was more concerned with Iran’s activities in the region to promote and fund terror and to destabilize the already volatile Middle East, saying this could have a serious effect on Israel. In a 2007 interview published in Portugal, he said that the free world was “in the midst of a Third World War” with radical Islam and predicted that it would take at least 25 years for the West to win.
In relation to the Palestinian terror organizations, he said that Israel has fought a series of inconclusive campaigns and that the unfortunate situation would continue for an undetermined period.
He basically blamed Israel, claiming that because Jerusalem had absolved itself from dealing with Hamas politically, it abandoned any chance to rid itself of an adversary. Halevy is a supporter of negotiations with the Gaza-based Hams terror organization.
“It is wrong for a state to be in a continual state of deterrence with a non-state actor,” he insisted.
Turning to the threat from Hezbollah in the north, he said they were a greater danger than Hamas because there is a deep religious and sectarian relationship between Hezbollah and Iran.
He was also critical of Israeli leaders who, he said, had failed in their obligation to the public.
“The leadership of Israel owes the public an explanation as to what is the real strategy concerning the north,” he declared, adding that it was equally important to have a political strategy with regard to the Palestinians.
Concerning Moscow’s sale of “defensive” weapons to Iran, Halevy said Israel’s relationship with Russia had always been difficult, even though there were times when Russia supported Israel. Russia is currently reestablishing itself as an important factor in the Middle East, and President Vladimir Putin has applauded Iran’s showing flexibility in the negotiations, he explained.
Yet all this is changing the balance of weaponry in the region, Halevy emphasized.
For this reason, he continued, it is in Israel’s interest to have as little conflict as possible with the US. Just as Israel expects the US to accommodate Jerusalem’s interests, he said, Israel should show sensitivity and accommodate America.
“It’s not a one-way highway,” Halevy declared.