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Dagan Speaks Again: Iran is a Challenge to Everyone

Former Mossad chief takes advantage of honorary degree ceremony to fire back at PM and remind all of the Iranian threat.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 6/22/2011, 5:47 AM / Last Update: 6/22/2011, 8:40 AM

Flash 90

Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan took advantage of a ceremony on Tuesday, during which he received an honorary degree at the Academic College of Netanya, to fire back at the Prime Minister’s Office, after the latter announced earlier in the week that his diplomatic passport must be returned.

“One does not need a passport to get to Netanya,” Dagan, who devoted most of his comments to the security and political challenges facing Israel, said sarcastically.

“There is no doubt that the Iranian threat is not just an Israeli problem. It is a major challenge to countries in the Persian Gulf coast, the free world and the United States,” he said, adding, “If [the Iranians] manage to achieve a nuclear weapon, it will be an existential threat. Iran wants to be a regional powerhouse while supporting terror organizations and Shiites throughout the world. This is not just an Israeli problem. By simply having the ability to achieve nuclear weapons, they are creating a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.” 

Though the office of the Prime Minister denied the report that it demanded that Dagan must return his diplomatic passport, speculations were rampant that the reason for the decision was Dagan’s harsh criticism of the Israeli government as soon as he stepped down from his post.

Dagan had accused the Netanyahu government’s policies on Iran as being irresponsible, and publicly warned against attacking Iran. He said that an aerial attack on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities would be a “dumb idea, the stupidest thing I have ever heard.”

He also criticized the government for not taking a diplomatic initiative on behalf of the Palestinian Authority and even expressed support for adopting what have been called the “Auschwitz borders” that confined Israel between the temporary 1949 Armistice Agreement and the Six Day War in 1967.

His comments, seen as irresponsible, were criticized by many, including former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.

Ashkenazi said earlier this week at the home of Canadian philanthropist Jerry Schwartz, “I do not think one should voice a strong opinion on whether an attack on Iran is required now, or other options. There are arguments in both directions, obviously there are disagreements, but what is important is keeping them inside the room and not outside it.”

In his remarks at Tuesday’s ceremony Dagan added that the radical Muslim Brotherhood movement, which has gained strength in Egypt and may take office there, is a regional challenge and added that “here, too, we must show that Israel is not alone. The situation allows for regional cooperation and the challenge we are dealing with is the challenge of all the neighboring countries and all the free world.”