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Dagan: No Existential Threat

Former Mossad director Meir Dagan once again took a swing at Prime Minister Netanyahu saying Israel faces no existential threats.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 2/8/2012, 4:09 PM

Meir Dagan
Meir Dagan
Flash 90

Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan one Wednesday once again weighed in on a potential military strike on Iran saying "Israel's survival is not at risk."

Dagan, who has accused Israel's leaders of "barreling towards a rash military strike" on Iran, made his comments as he kicked off a new movement calling for political reform called "Yesh Sicuii." (there is a chance).

The former Mossad director's position again puts him at odds with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who has referred to an Iranian nuclear bomb as an "existential threat" to Israel more than once.

Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan on saying, "We must demand that when the prime minister is making fateful strategic decisions, such as action against Iran, he will not give in to or have his hand forced by political pressure."

Dagan's repeated and vocal opposition to a strike on Iran previously cost him his diplomatic passport and put him at the center of controversy last year when confidential discussions between senior security officials appeared in the Israeli press.

Those reports led to a firestorm of international media attention and led to criticism that Israel's left-wing news outlets weren't just reporting news, but trying to dictate policy by making an attack impossible.

Some officials suspected Dagan, who had only recently left the Mossad and has extensive security contacts in Israel, was the source of the leaks but no evidence was ever presented to support the claim.

For his part, Dagan seemed more interested on Wednesday in building a populist political base than questions of Israel's survival.

"The state of Israel faces great challenges, some of them from within: impossible chasms, sectarian tendencies which have minority and pressure groups controlling the state while the majority is not heard and has no way to realize its desires," Dagan stated.

Among the reforms Dagan called for was raising the threshold of votes needed for a party to be seated in the Knesset to three percent, having 50% of MKs elected regionally, and making it mandatory that the prime minister be from the party which receives the most votes in the election.

In Israel's last election the Kadima party won 28 mandates, but was unable to form a coalition with a majority of Knesset seats. As a result, the Likud, which won 27 mandates and had sufficient political allies to form a majority, was tapped to make the government.

Dagan has repeatedly used Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government as a rhetorical punching bag while campaigning for political reform.

While Dagan's assessment of an Iranian nuclear weapon is not unique, many of those who share it differ sharply in their assessment as to whether Israel should strike Iran.

Former Mossad head Maj. Gen. Danny Yatom (res) said last year, "As steep as the price for hitting Iran may be, a military strike on Iran will be less painful than the cost of living with an Iranian nuclear weapons threat."

"The backlash from a strike on Iran's nuclear sites will not be as bad for Israel as will an Iran armed with nuclear weapons," Yatom said, adding. "I don't think that those predicting apocalyptic repercussions of a strike on Tehran are correct, and even if they are, Israel can't afford to wonder if Tehran will go crazy and bomb us."