What is the significance of Meir Dagan's recent defections from the Netanyahu agenda-- on the Green Line and Iran? Arnaud de Borchgrave has a great column about the fight inside Israeli leadership over an attack on Iran, and how such plans reflect Israel's desire to divert attention from the Palestinian statehood initiative in the U.N. On which there will be two dissenters, de Borchgrave says, the U.S. and Israel. Thanks to Blankfort:
Netanyahu faced an ugly low upon his return from a U.S. high.
[Dagan] The man who ran Israel's formidable Mossad for eight years is criticizing Netanyahu for ignoring the 2002 Saudi Arabia peace plan — to which all 22 Arab governments subscribed. Israel was to withdraw to the pre-1967 war frontier with minor rectifications on either side. And all Arab governments agreed that in return they would recognize Israel diplomatically and commercially.
This, essentially, was the plan that Obama dusted off and Netanyahu shelved.
But ex-Mossad chief Meir Dagan is a dagger in Netanyahu's body politic. And Dagan isn't alone. Several former intelligence chiefs are lined up with Dagan. They also know first-hand how anxious Netanyahu is to detract from Palestinian pressure for their own state in the West Bank and Gaza — by bombing Iran's nuclear installations.
As Dagan put it, "This would mean regional war and in that case you would give Iran the best possible reason to continue its nuclear program."
And the regional challenge that Israel would then face, said the spy chief, "would be impossible." He and his intel colleagues know that Iran has formidable asymmetrical retaliatory capabilities — from Bahrain, homeport for the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, with a local population that is two-thirds Shiite, many of them pro-Iran, to the Hormuz Strait, Qatari and Saudi oil terminals, and Hezbollah and Hamas rockets and missiles.
Dagan, Yuval Diskin, head of Shin Bet, the internal security agency, and Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, the military chief of staff, all stepped down this year, And Dagan made clear he and his retiring colleagues served as a brake on the gung-ho Bibi Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
According to Israeli media reports, a week before retiring, Dagan tried to send a message to the Israeli public to warn about Netanyahu's plans for an attack on Iran. But military censorship blocked any reporting of Dagan's views. He was no sooner officially retired than he evaded the censors.
Haaretz front-paged a commentary by Ari Shavit that said, "It's not the Iranians nor the Palestinians who are keeping Dagan awake at night, but Israel's leadership."
Dagan appeared on stage at Tel Aviv University last week, where he told Shavit he is deeply worried about the next turn of the Palestinian wheel at the U.N. General Assembly in New York next September. This is when the Palestinians will request recognition of a Palestinian state with its pre-1967 war borders.
The vote is expected to be unanimous — other than two dissenters: the United States and Israel.
This is when Dagan expects Netanyahu to attack Iran. By going public now, he hopes to put the kibosh on the well-rehearsed plan.