Former Mossad chief criticises Israeli PM Netanyahu

Former Director of Mossad Meir Dagan slams Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in interview published posthumously, accusing him of prioritising personal interests over national concerns

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Meir Dagan speaks in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on March 7, 2015.

A former head of the Israeli spy agency Mossad harshly criticised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an interview published posthumously on Monday, accusing him of putting personal interests above national concerns.

Meir Dagan, who died aged 71 on March 17, led Mossad from 2002 through 2010, notably working to thwart Iran's nuclear programme while also opposing a military strike against it.

He held a series of conversations with a journalist from Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth before his death that were withheld until Monday.

"I knew a lot of prime ministers," he said.

"None of them were saintly types. But they had one shared trait: When they reached the point in which their personal interest intersected with the national interest, the national interest always prevailed. There are only two I can't say that about - Bibi and Barak."

Bibi is Netanyahu's nickname, while Barak refers to former prime minister and defence minister Ehud Barak.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (AFP)

Netanyahu and then defence minister Barak were reported to have given the order in 2010 for the military to prepare a strike against Iran, which was never carried out.

Dagan strongly opposed such a strike, a position shared by the military's then chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi.

"Bibi is the worst manager I know," said the former spymaster who suffered from liver cancer and underwent a transplant.

"The worst thing is that he's got a certain trait that's kind of like 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."

On his opposition to a military strike against Iran, Dagan said that "the working assumption, as if it would be possible to fully stop the Iranian nuclear programme by means of a military strike, is incorrect."

"That military capacity doesn't exist," said Dagan.

"The only thing that can be accomplished is to suspend, and that would be for a defined period of time."

Under Dagan's leadership, Mossad is believed to have assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists, caused explosions at nuclear facilities and used computer viruses to damage uranium centrifuges.

Mossad has never confirmed such operations.

Further details of the interviews with Dagan are to be published on Friday, the newspaper said.