On Sunday (January 9 2011), Yediot’s Itamar Eichner reported [emphasis mine; full translation here]:
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is furious with outgoing Mossad Director Meir Dagan because of the briefing Dagan gave journalists last Thursday. In the course of that briefing, Dagan shared with the reporters the Mossad’s assessment that the Iranians would be unable to develop a nuclear bomb before 2015.
Yedioth Ahronoth has learned that Dagan’s statements infuriated Netanyahu, who advocates taking an aggressive approach vis-à-vis Iran. According to a high-ranking political official, Netanyahu reprimanded Dagan and said that his statements had undermined Israel’s efforts to fight against the Iranian nuclear program by means of the international community.
In an op-ed published on the same day, Sever Plocker, a senior editor at the paper, expresses wonder at the scant attention Dagan’s statement recieved [full translation and Hebrew original at the bottom of this post]:
One of the most historically important statements to have been made in the past ten years in the State of Israel made headlines in the Israeli media on Friday for a single day. It elicited a few reactions and a few brief analyses — and disappeared.
Plocker, hardly a knee-jerk leftist (see this recent critique of the Israeli left and the prospects for peace with the Palestinians, for example,) explains the drama [emphasis mine]:
Dagan, a suspicious super-cautious individual who routinely prefers to err on the side of pessimism…The Iranian nuclear threat died. It keeled over. Because, if the director of the State of Israel’s Mossad is prepared to risk saying that Iran won’t have even a single nuclear bomb “at least until 2015,” that means that Iran is not going to have a nuclear bomb. Period.
He also helps us understand Netanyahu’s is fury [emphasis mine]:
For more than a decade, Israel has been living under the thickening cloud of the Iranian nuclear bomb. The military, economic and even the social agendas in Israel have been directly influenced by it. The election of Netanyahu as prime minister (and Barak’s joining the coalition) were explained by the need to place at the head of the state and the security establishment people who would be capable of leading the people and the army in this decisive year in dealing with Iran. From time to time, in light of the foolish things that the two of them have done, public opinion was asked to be forgiving of them because of the weight of the Iranian threat that lay on their shoulders.
The op-ed ends with a call to move on:
Dagan’s statement about the lifting of the Iranian nuclear threat frees Israel from the clutches of a nightmare that we were either conscious of or not, but which cast a giant black shadow over all of us. Farewell, Iranian bomb. In your absence, the time has ripened to place other issues at the top of our agenda. And there is no lack of other issues.
Indeed, Israel’s diplomatic isolation and the rapid evaporation of what remains of its democracy would be a good place to start.
Op-ed, Sever Plocker, Yediot, January 9 2010 [Hebrew original here and at the bottom of this post]
One of the most historically important statements to have been made in the past ten years in the State of Israel made headlines in the Israeli media on Friday for a single day. It elicited a few reactions and a few brief analyses — and disappeared. The statement was ascribed to (and was not subsequently denied by) the outgoing Mossad director, Meir Dagan.
Dagan, a suspicious super-cautious individual who routinely prefers to err on the side of pessimism, was quoted as having said: “Iran will not have nuclear military capability at least until 2015.” The reason cited for this: technical difficulties and malfunctions, which have stymied Tehran’s efforts to get its military nuclear program off the ground. For the sake of accuracy, and the Mossad relies on accuracy, the above-cited “technical difficulties and malfunctions” have already caused that initiative a few years’ worth of setbacks.
As Israel’s diplomatic position erodes and the Palestinian Authority’s campaign for the unilateral recognition of a state in the 1967 borders gains ground, the demand for “direct negotiations” has become a central talking point of Israeli government spokespeople. Here’s the latest example, from a January 2 Associated Press report:
He [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] said he was ready to sit with Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, for “continuous direct one-on-one negotiations until white smoke is wafting,” an allusion to the Vatican’s custom for announcing a new pope.
“If Abu Mazen agrees to my proposal of directly discussing all the core issues, we will know very quickly if we can reach an agreement,” he said.
This morning’s [January 3] Maariv questions the sincerity of this proposal [full translation at the bottom of this post]:
In the past weeks, Israeli representatives, including Netanyahu, have repeatedly rejected official documents that their Palestinian counterparts have tried to submit to them, with details of the Palestinian positions on all the core issues. The Israeli representatives are completely unwilling to discuss, read or touch these documents, not to speak of submitting an equivalent Israeli document with the Israeli positions…This completely contradicts the Israeli position, according to which everything is open for negotiation, and Netanyahu is willing to talk about all the core issues and go into a room with Abu Mazen in order to come out of it with an arrangement. If this is the case, there is no reason for the Israelis not to willingly accept a review of the Palestinian positions in order to present counter-papers that will make it possible to start bridging the gaps.
Of the examples cited by diplomatic affairs analyst Ben Caspit, one is unambiguously ”direct”:
in a meeting that was held between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Abu Mazen, in the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem. It has now become apparent that in this meeting, Abu Mazen brought an official Palestinian document for Netanyahu, consisting of two printed pages, with the proposed Palestinian solution on the two issues that the sides were supposed to discuss at the first stage: Security arrangements and borders. Netanyahu refused to read or discuss the document. Abu Mazen is said to have left the document at the Prime Minister’s Residence (so that Netanyahu could read it later).
Another, more recent, incident reveals something of the motivation for the Israeli rejections [emphasis mine]:
in the latest meeting that was held between the two negotiators, Dr. Saeb Erekat from the Palestinian side and Attorney Yitzhak Molcho from the Israeli side. The meeting was held in Washington a few weeks ago, in the presence of the American mediators. During the meeting, Erekat surprised Molcho, took an official booklet out of his briefcase bearing the logo of the Palestinian Authority and tried to hand it to Molcho. When the Israeli inquired as to the content of the booklet, Erekat said that this was, in effect, the detailed and updated Palestinian peace plan, with the detailed Palestinian positions on all the core issues. Molcho refused to take the booklet or examine it. According to sources who are informed about what took place there, he said to Erekat, and to the Americans, that he could not touch the Palestinian booklet, read it or take it, because as soon as he would do so, “the government will fall.”
Ben Caspit, Maariv, January 3 2010 [front-page; Hebrew original here]
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced yesterday that he was willing to discuss all the core issues with Abu Mazen in closed meetings, and said that if he were to go into the room with the Palestinian leader he would sit down and discuss all the issues with him “until white smoke rises.” Ma’ariv has found that in reality, the situation is the complete opposite: In the past weeks, Israeli representatives, including Netanyahu, have repeatedly rejected official documents that their Palestinian counterparts have tried to submit to them, with details of the Palestinian positions on all the core issues. The Israeli representatives are completely unwilling to discuss, read or touch these documents, not to speak of submitting an equivalent Israeli document with the Israeli positions.