Ian Black, Middle East editor / The Guardian – 2011-11-04 00:52:37
Kuwaiti paper says Binyamin Netanyahu believes the heads of the Mossad and Shin Bet may have leaked plans for attack
TEL AVIV (November 3, 2011) — Israel’s prime minister has ordered an investigation into alleged leaks of plans to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, it has been reported.
According to the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Jarida, the main suspects are the former heads of the Mossad and the Shin Bet, respectively Israel’s foreign and domestic intelligence agencies.
Netanyahu is said to believe that the two, Meir Dagan and Yuval Diskin, wanted to torpedo plans being drawn up by him and Ehud Barak, the defence minister, to hit Iranian nuclear sites. Tzipi Livni, leader of the opposition Kadima party, is also said to have been persuaded to attack Netanyahu for “adventurism” and “gambling with Israel’s national interest”.
The paper suggested that the purpose of the leaks was to prevent an attack, which had moved from the stage of discussion to implementation. “Those who oppose the plan within the security establishment decided to leak it to the media and thwart the plan,” it said.
Both Dagan and Diskin oppose military action against Iran unless all other options â€“ primarily international diplomatic pressure and perhaps sabotage â€” have been exhausted. In January the recently retired Dagan, a hawk when he was running the Mossad, called an attack on Iran “the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard”.
The Kuwait paper has a track record of running stories based on apparently high-level leaks from Israeli officials.
Even well-informed Israeli observers admit to being confused about what is going on behind the scenes.
“It seems that only Netanyahu and Barak know, and maybe even they haven’t decided,” commented Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, both respected Haaretz writers. “While many people say Netanyahu and Barak are conducting sophisticated psychological warfare and don’t intend to launch a military operation, top officials â€¦ are still afraid.”
The idea that something significant is going on in this highly sensitive area was rekindled last week in comments by columnist Nahum Barnea, who wrote in Yedioth Ahronoth that the officials running Israel’s military and intelligence services were opposed to a war with Iran.
“Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak are the Siamese twins of the Iranian issue,” he wrote. “A rare phenomenon is taking place here in terms of Israeli politics: a prime minister and defence minister who act as one body, with one goal, with mutual backing and repeated heaping of praise on each otherâ€¦ They’re characterised as urging action.
“Netanyahu portrayed the equation at the beginning of his term as: [Iranian president Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad is Hitler; if he is not stopped in time, there will be a Holocaust. There are some who describe Netanyahu’s fervour on this subject as an obsession: all his life he’s dreamed of being Churchill. Iran gives him the chance.”
The debate in Israel was further fanned on Wednesday when Israel successfully test-fired a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and striking Iran.
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