Meir Dagan
Meir Dagan Israel news photo: Flash 90

Meir Dagan, the former head of Mossad, said Wednesday that Bashar Assad "is not fit to be a leader" since he is using force against his citizens. "I think he needs to be gotten rid of," Dagan added, without explaining if he is talking about Assad's political removal or physical elimination.

Dagan spoke at the President's Conference in Jerusalem.

Dagan added that Assad's demise will considerably weaken Iran's influence in the region and erode Hizbullah's status, possibly leading to a political change in Lebanon.

While Islamism is on the rise in the Middle East, Dagan said the situation is not as bad as it seems.  "Regrettably, the Islamic elements have taken over dictating some of the agenda in all of the countries, and we are concerned that the extremist movements will take over. This has grave regional repercussions for us – among other things, because of the creation of a common denominator and a coalition against Israel. I would be happy of the regimes had a more democratic bent."

Jordan, he said, was an exception, in that "the relationship and the dialogue of the regime with the people are more open and they never led to extreme radical violence."

All in all, he said, the situation in the Arab world "is not as bad as some are trying to portray it as."

"It is true that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt poses a certain threat, but the economic troubles, education, the social gaps and the internal matters occupy them more [than Israel]," he estimated.