Former Israeli Spy Chief Criticizes Romney For ‘Drawing Israel Into This Campaign’

Efraim Halevy

In an interview published today in Foreign Policy magazine, Efraim Halevy, former head of the Israeli spy organization the Mossad, slammed Mitt Romney for repeatedly turning Israel into a campaign issue during the election:

“Regarding the election, I think many of the statements made by the Republican candidate are very undesirable as far as Israel is concerned. I remember an article of Governor Romney’s in the Washington Post in March where he advocated dispatching American warships to the Eastern Mediterranean. Shooting from the hip on these matters is a very dangerous sport to be engaged in. And I think that drawing Israel into this campaign is detrimental to Israeli interests, and I regret that one of the candidates is doing this.”

Romney has criticized the Obama administration’s relationship with Israel throughout the campaign, claiming that the president has “thrown allies like Israel under the bus.” Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan described Obama’s treatment of Israel as “indifference bordering on contempt.” In this week’s debate in which Romney echoed many of Obama’s views, the former governer used Israel to try to differentiate their positions. Romney said that there has been “turmoil with Israel” under President Obama. But Halevy says the Obama administration has been fine: “On the practical side, the United States has been very supportive of Israel during President Barack Obama’s administration — both financially and strategically, we have received a lot of support.”

Just today, Halevy wrote an op-ed in the New York Times directed at Romney’s “under the bus” comments, saying that U.S. pressure on Israel “has come from Republican presidents, not Democratic ones.”

Israeli officials and politicians, like Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres, have repeatedly said that the U.S.-Israeli relationship is in good shape under the Obama administration. In July, Barak, Israel’s defense minister, told CNN: “I should tell you honestly that this administration under President Obama is doing, in regard to our security, more than anything that I can remember in the past.”

Halevy’s comments published today follow an interview he gave on Sunday to Al-Monitor in which he said of Romney: “What Romney is doing is mortally destroying any chance of a resolution without war.” In the same interview, Halevy lauded President Obama’s approach: “Obama does think there is still room for negotiations. It’s a very courageous thing to say in this atmosphere.”