Ex Mossad Chief: Spy Agency Is a “Crime Syndicate with a License”; Israel’s Biggest Threat Is Potential Civil War, Not Iran
Source: The Ugly Truth
“Mossad isn’t a crime syndicate,” Netanyahu says in dig at ex-spy chief
Former agency head Tamir Pardo had accused PM of trying to wiretap his phone, pushing for a strike on Iran
(Times of Israel)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday took a jab at former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo over a critical interview the latter gave in which he accused the premier of attempting to wiretap his phone in 2011.
During the interview with the “Uvda” investigative TV show aired Thursday, Pardo called the spy agency he once headed a “crime syndicate with a license.”
Netanyahu, speaking to ministers at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting, said, “Mossad is not a crime syndicate.”
“It is a glorious organization carrying out blessed work battling terrorism and we all salute it,” he added.
In its report, “Uvda” said that Netanyahu had asked then-Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen to monitor the communications of senior defense officials, including Pardo and then-IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz.
There was no evidence or specific concerns that Gantz and Pardo were leaking state secrets, and the eavesdropping was meant as a “preventative measure,” according to the news program’s sources.
Cohen reportedly denied the prime minister’s request, telling Netanyahu that the “Shin Bet is not supposed to use such drastic measures against the people leading the military and the Mossad.”
Pardo, who was selected by Netanyahu to lead the Mossad and took over the agency’s helm in early 2011, said he was shocked by the revelation.
“I don’t want to believe that in the State of Israel, which is a democratic country, the prime minister would ask the head of the Shin Bet to listen in on the [IDF] chief of staff or myself. If [Netanyahu] didn’t believe in us, he could make us end our tenures within 10 minutes,” Pardo told the host of “Uvda,” Ilana Dayan.
Netanyahu’s office quickly responded to the report, calling it “totally unfounded,” but also appeared to acknowledge that at least some aspects of it were true.
“The claim that the prime minister asked the head of the Shin Bet to listen in on the chief of staff and head of the Mossad is totally unfounded,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. “It is a total distortion of the systemic efforts that are done occasionally in order to protect sensitive information of the utmost importance to the security of Israel.“
The decision about which measures to use and against which individuals is left to the authorized officials,” Netanyahu’s office said.
The prime minister later posted a video to his social media accounts saying he preferred to listen to music.
“This is a complete lie. Not only am I saying this, former Shin Bet head [Yoram Cohen] also says that this is nonsense, a lie.”
Netanyahu went on to reveal what he “really listens to.”
“The High Windows, The Yarkon Bridge Trio, Arik Einstein,” he said, listing Israeli bands and musicians. “The Beatles – the first albums – Abba and also people from today.”
The revelation about the prime minister’s alleged eavesdropping request was part of a larger report aired by “Uvda” about the security cabinet’s discussions and decisions in 2011 as Israel considered carrying out a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities in order to prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring a nuclear bomb.
Pardo told the program that Netanyahu had instructed then-IDF chief Gantz to ready the military to carry out an attack on Iran within 15 days of being ordered into action. That order, Pardo said, led him to contemplate resigning rather than participate in an attack.
“It’s not something that you’re permitted to do just for practice,” he said of the request to put the military on a war footing. “If someone does that then it has two [possible] purposes: One purpose is that he really means [to attack] and the other option is that he is sending a signal, that someone out there should know.”
Pardo’s term as chief of Mossad ended in 2016, and the spy agency is now headed by Yossi Cohen.
Ex Mossad chief: Israel’s biggest threat is potential civil war, not Iran
Source: The Ugly Truth
“If a society crosses a certain line in its division and hatred, then it is a real possibility to see a phenomenon like a civil war.”
The most pressing threat to Israel is not Iran, but rather the increased polarization within Israeli society, former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo said in his first public appearance since leaving office in June.
“There is no outside existential threat to Israel, the only real existential threat is internal division,” Pardo said at an annual event to honor fallen Druse soldiers in the North.
“Internal division,” Pardo said, “can lead us to civil war – we are already on a path toward that. If a society crosses a certain line in its division and hatred, it is a real possibility to see a phenomenon like a civil war.”
Society at large bears responsibility to prevent these divisions, not just the leadership, he added.
In response to reporter’s questions, Pardo also addressed the Palestinian issue, saying that without a diplomatic solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “we will never be able to achieve normalization with our Arab neighbors.”
The comments on relations with the Palestinians came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly hailed improved diplomatic relations with moderate Arab countries in the region.
Pardo also took issue with the Defense Ministry’s statement earlier this month that compared the deal between the six world powers and Iran to curb Tehran’s nuclear program with the 1938 Munich agreement that allowed Nazi Germany to annex portions of Czechoslovakia.
“You can’t compare squash and grapes. What happened a century ago is different from what is occurring today,” Pardo said. “History does not repeat itself.”