Leaders of the military and security institutions in Israel disagree with Prime Minister Naftali Bennet government’s hardline opposition to the Iranian nuclear deal, political sources in Tel Aviv revealed on Wednesday.
They support the US policy towards Iran, led by President Joe Biden, generals in the Pentagon, the army and intelligence services, and prefer reaching an agreement with Tehran instead of the failure of the ongoing negotiations in Vienna.
The sources said these Israeli figures cannot engage in public discussions with the government, so they don’t express their stances and continue to prepare for direct military confrontations with Tehran and conduct drills to launch raids on Iranian nuclear facilities.
But in order to influence the government’s stance, they push veteran retired generals to speak on their behalf to the media as experts.
In this context, Israel’s former military intelligence chief endorsed a return to the Iran nuclear deal this week, asserting that such a move would be in Israel’s interests at the current time.
“At any point in time, things should be examined according to the data available. Therefore, the reality of here and now, reaching a deal is the right thing,” Maj. Gen. Tamir Hayman said in an interview with Israel Hayom, published on Wednesday.
Hayman affirmed that Tehran has exceeded the amount of fissile material sufficient to produce the first bomb.
“This means that the situation that would have happened once the nuclear deal elapsed (in 2030) wouldn't have been as bad as the current situation, as Iran has stockpiled so much enriched material and its abilities have advanced beyond what the deal had allowed it to pursue,” he warned.
He affirmed that an agreement between Western powers and Iran will buy Israel time.
“It would diminish and reset the amount of enriched material that Iran has, set it back and it would buy us (Israel) a very long time because enrichment takes a long time.”
Israel could put this time to good use, he stressed, noting that it can issue threats, improve military capabilities, form international coalitions, or put in place infrastructure for the post-deal period.
Hayman, who headed the Israeli military's Intelligence Directorate until late last year, is now the director of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).
Ofer Shelah, the former senior member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, also published a similar position on Ynet news website on Wednesday.
He stressed that the government is making a grave mistake in opposing the nuclear deal, since it would affect its ties with the US administration and harm its own interests.
He said Israel’s arrogance, narrow-mindedness, and addiction to using force will not cripple Iran’s nuclear plans, but rather convince Tehran that nuclear arms are something they must attain for protection.
History has taught us that those who set their minds to attaining a nuclear weapon, do so, Shelah wrote.
He pointed out that Iran is giving the impression that it has yet to make a final decision on whether it actually wants that.
“Instead of concentrating all resources on trying to prevent it from reaching such a decision we're merely applying more and more force,” he lamented.