Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan and former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi denied on Sunday that they refused orders from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to strike Iran in 2010. Dagan called the order “illegal” but also said it had never been issued.

The somewhat contradictory claims were made during a heated debate at The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York with the paper’s columnist Caroline Glick, who charged that under the leadership of Dagan and Ashkenazi, Israel’s defense apparatus refused to attack Iran, when there was a window of opportunity to do so.

“We were always willing to obey any legal order by the prime minister. We never refused an order,” said Dagan.

“There was never a decision about it,” Ashkenazi added.

Glick angrily charged that Dagan and Ashkenazi’s prevention of the military option in 2010 led to the current dire situation, in which Iran is close to building a nuclear bomb.

“In 2010, according to a report from 2012 on the Israeli news program Uvda, we learned that two of the gentlemen on this panel were given an order to prepare the military for an imminent strike against Iran’s military installations and they refused,” Glick said.

“Because it was an illegal order,” Dagan interjected.

“You were ordered by the security cabinet to prepare...” Glick said.

“You were not there, we don’t know what happened there,” Dagan tried to answer. “The prime minister, without the authority of the government...”

Glick continued, employing sarcasm: “Had you not brought in your expert legal opinion to determine whether or not the prime minister of Israel and the defense minister of Israel have a right to order Israel to take action in its national defense, then we would not be where we are today. We would not be faced with a situation where no international coalition will be built. Where now we are seeing the United States moving forward at the end of the month to conclude a nuclear agreement with Tehran that will enable them to acquire the bomb,” Glick charged to a prolonged ovation.

According to JPost, Ashkenazi said that what Glick was saying was “stupid,” but later apologized and saying he meant “insulting.”

Cocking the IDF

In an interview with Channel 10 after the debate, Dagan described the meeting in which he and Ashkenazi allegedly refused Netanyahu's instructions.

"The prime minister asked to take the IDF and all the forces and cock them [the Hebrew word Dagan used, lidroch, refers to the cocking of a gun or to drawing a spring taut before releasing it – ed.) to what is known as P+30 [according to Channel 10, the code for a call-up of reserves – ed.].”

"We explained to him that one of the meanings that this could entail, is that the enemy will notice the high state of alert that the state of Israel is entering. It, too, would go into a state of alert, the Iranians would go into a state of alert. From that moment onward, even if we didn't want an attack, even if we didn't want anything, we are in a reality in which the snowball is rolling and you don't know where it will end. The way that meeting ended was that after we clarified the ramifications, the prime minister’s demand was no longer in that sphere,” Dagan claimed.