A growing number of current and former Israeli officials are voicing concern that attacking Iran may prove counterproductive in deterring Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon. Last week, former Israeli internal security chief Yuval Diskin warned that attacking Iran may “encourage them to develop a bomb.”
In an interview on Tuesday, former Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) intelligence head Shlomo Gazit joined the chorus warning against attacking Iran. Gazit agreed with Diskin that attacking Iran would not destroy Iran’s nuclear program, and could even accelerate it, the Jerusalem Post reports:
The public discourse over a strike largely neglected the likelihood that Iran would resume its program after being attacked, Gazit noted.
He said he agreed with Diskin that an Israeli attack would not destroy the program, and could even accelerate it, while enabling Iran to legitimize its efforts diplomatically.
Diskin raised eyebrows last week when he slammed Barak and Netanyahu as “our two messiahs” and charged:
[Israel’s 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.
But Gazit urged those who agree with Diskin’s assessment to direct their criticisms to the electorate:
Even if they have messianic considerations, this is not important. They were legally elected through a ballot, and Diskin should direct his claims [against them] to the electorate.
In New York on Friday, former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan backed up Diskin’s criticisms, telling the Jerusalem Post that Diskin was speaking his “internal truth” and characterized him as a good friend and serious person.
Sources “close to the prime minister” told the Jerusalem Post that Diskin’s attacks were “irresponsible” and “motivated by personal frustration that he wasn’t chosen to lead the Mossad.” But another former head of Israel’s internal security service, and current member of the Knesset, Yoel Hasson, was reported by the Jerusalem Post as warning that Netanyahu should be concerned about the criticms he is facing from former heads of the security establishment, such as Diskin, Dagan and Gabi Ashkenazi.
While a potential Iranian nuclear weapon is widely considered a threat to both the security of the U.S. and its allies in the region, as well as the nuclear non-proliferation regime, those estimates give the West time to pursue a dual-track approach of pressure and diplomacy to resolve the crisis. Like their Israeli counterparts, American officials including President Obama vow to keep “all options on the table” to deal with the Iranian nuclear program, but questions about the efficacy and consequences of a strike have led U.S. officials to declare that diplomacy is the “best and most permanent way” to resolve the West’s crisis with Iran.