A former Israeli spy chief who supports nuclear talks with Iran said on Tuesday that his old boss, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will put Israel in a "ridiculous" position if he succeeds in derailing the U.S.-led negotiations, Talking Points Memo reports.
Netanyahu is right to feel threatened by Iran's suspected efforts to develop nuclear weaponry, but wrong to shun diplomacy in favor of saber-rattling, Efraim Halevy, director of the intelligence agency, Mossad, under five prime ministers, told reporters in a conference call sponsored by the Israel Policy Forum.
Netanyahu has emerged as a leading foe of the talks, charging that the nuclear deal taking shape will enable Iran to make good on past threats to wipe Israel "off the map."
Halevy said that by advocating a "pure military approach" to Iran and talking only about Israel's security, "the prime minster deprives himself of a vital tool."
He said Netanyahu will have to "bite the bullet on some of these issues that politically are very, very difficult," he said.
But he worried that instead Netanyahu might actually sabotage the talks, and he pondered "the somewhat ridiculous situation we might be in if an Israeli effort to derail the entire process would succeed."
He said that "the consequences would be untold," Talking Points Memo reports.
U.S.-Israeli relations are at a low ebb, dragged down by Netanyahu's vocal opposition to the talks and by a mutual dislike between the Israeli prime minister and President Barack Obama.
Earlier in April, Halevy took the Israeli prime minister to task for throwing cold water on the framework agreement reached by world powers and Iran.
"You can't have your cake and eat it too; you can't conduct an all-out war against the president to thwart his historic achievement and, in the same breath, hold talks with him to improve the product,' he wrote in an op-ed in Israeli media.
On Tuesday, Halevy urged Netanyahu to work to help "heal" the battered alliance.
President Obama's Republican opponents in Congress have largely sided with Netanyahu, and joined with several Democrats to pass a Senate bill demanding the opportunity to reject any easing of U.S. economic sanctions on Iran. The president has he would sign the measure.
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