A group of dovish retired Israel military and intelligence officers, organized under the rubric of Commanders for Israel's Security, has denounced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for damaging relations with the United States, The Washington Post
The 180 ex-officers also said that Netanyahu's address to Congress on Tuesday against the Obama administration's efforts to cut a nuclear deal with Iran would do nothing to slow down Iran's quest for nuclear weapons, the Post said.
Netanyahu is actually strengthening Iran's position, said Amnon Reshef, the founder of the group and a former head of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) armored corps.
In November, Reshef told the Yediot Aharanot newspaper that he was "absolutely" convinced it was possible to establish a Palestinian state with the support of the Arab countries if Netanyahu were willing to be "courageous."
At a news conference Sunday, Amiram Levin, a former Mossad officer who was also Netanyahu's commander in an IDF special forces unit, said that the mullahs in Iran were glad to see a rift develop between the Obama administration and Jerusalem.
"Iran wants Netanyahu's speech. They understand that it will weaken Israel's bipartisan bond with the United States."
"It's hard for me to speak out against Bibi," Levin said using Netanyahu's nickname. "I was his commander. I recruited him. I taught him how to navigate and I'm telling him now: 'Bibi, you've made an error in navigation. The objective ought to be Tehran, not Washington,'" the Hebrew-language tabloid Ma'ariv reported.
Another ex-general, Giora Rom, said Jerusalem should not be "fighting" President Barack Obama. "There are more suitable ways to deal with the Iranian agreement being worked on rather than going to Congress like this," Rom told the Post.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon defended Netanyahu's decision to go ahead with the speech.
"There is a huge gap between how we see things and how the Americans see them. We could capitulate and grovel, but this is a historic moment — and if we don't act correctly, history will judge us badly."
As prime ministers, former Israeli generals have been willing to take risks for peace.
Yitzhak Rabin signed the 1993 Oslo Accords which brought Yasser Arafat out of Tunisian exile and established him as head of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Ariel Sharon uprooted 21 Israeli settlements and pulled IDF forces out of the Gaza Strip in 2005.
And Ehud Barak offered to turn ov
er the Golan Heights to Syria when he was prime minister in 1999.
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