Israeli spymaster criticises Netanyahu from the grave

In an interview published on Monday, Meir Dagan, who died on March 17 at the age of 71, accused the Israeli leader of putting personal interests above national concerns.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  embraces the outgoing director of Mossad, Meir Dagan, on January 2, 2011. In a series of interviews published after his death last month,Dagan attacked Netanyahu for putting his personal interests first.  AFP PHOTO/POOL/RONEN ZVULUN
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JERUSALEM // Even in death, the former head of Israel’s Mossad spy agency is continuing his attack on prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In an interview published on Monday, Meir Dagan, who died on March 17 at the age of 71, accused the Israeli leader of putting personal interests above national concerns.

The Yediot Ahronot daily published excerpts from a series of lengthy interviews given by Dagan. In them, he called Mr Netanyahu “the worst manager I know”.

“The worst thing is that he’s got a certain trait that’s kind of like [former prime minister] Ehud Barak – the two of them believe that they’re the greatest geniuses in the world and that no one gets what it is that they really want,” Dagan said.

“He is the only prime minister – think about that – who reached a state in which the entire security establishment essentially didn’t accept his position.”

Dagan, who led Mossad from 2002 to 2011, opposed the prospect of an Israeli pre-emptive military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities that Mr Netanyahu was said to have supported.

Under his leadership, Mossad reportedly carried out covert attacks against Iranian nuclear scientists and unleashed cyberattacks, including the Stuxnet virus, developed in cooperation with the US. The virus was credited with delaying Iran’s nuclear programme.

But he thought air strikes would be counterproductive and was often credited with preventing them from happening.

“The working assumption that it would be possible to fully stop the Iranian nuclear programme by means of a military strike is incorrect,” Dagan said.

“That military capacity doesn’t exist. The only thing that can be accomplished is suspension – and that would be for a defined period of time.”

“If Israel attacks, [Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei will thank God. That will unite the Iranian people behind the project and will allow Khamenei to say the project was for peaceful purposes until now.

“But because we’ve been attacked by a terrorist state, we have to turn the project into a military project in order to defend ourselves.”

After resigning from Mossad, Dagan criticised Mr Netanyahu’s opposition to the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

Days before Israel’s elections last year, he tearfully implored Israelis at a rally to vote him out.

* Associated Press and Agence France-Presse