Jonathan Goldberg: Israeli security and military agencies differ with Netanyahu on Iran’s nuclear agreement

[original article in  VOA Farsi]

Unlike Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, some former and current Israeli military and intelligence officials do not view the Iran nuclear agreement as a bad deal. They also believe that some items in the agreement can be of benefit for them.

On July 23rd Jonathan Goldberg, editor-at-large of The Forward newspaper, wrote an article about the motivation and rationale of criticism by the Israeli Prime Minister towards the agreement in Vienna. The following is a transcript of Mr. Goldberg’s interview with Voice of America.

VOA: In recent weeks and months, we have witnessed the emergence of a small, but important, group of senior Israeli military and security officials who have been in stark contrast to the Prime Minister; they have a more positive perception of the nuclear agreement. Can you explain more about this group of officials and their motivation in challenging the Israeli government on this issue?

Goldberg: The last time an Israeli official contradicted the Prime Minister, we have to go back to January when Tamir Padro – the Director of the Mossad [Israeli intelligence agency] – met with a group of US senators and told them that the proposed plan by Senators Menendez and Corker to tighten sanctions is not wise because it would jeopardize the negotiations – it was important to maintain those talks. These remarks by Mr. Padro were almost exactly the opposite of those positions held by PM Netanyahu. We have seen the emergence of these oppositions with every passing month which suggests a sense of distance between the Prime Minister’s position and that of his military commanders, the internal security forces and the intelligence community. This trend is more telling with recent comments from retired officials from these organizations who can relatively speak more freely.

VOA: However, according to recent polls, an overwhelming majority of Israeli citizens support an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities and are extremely pessimistic about the agreement in Vienna. Is there a risk that the shared feelings of the majority of Israelis along with the slogans from Iran and the rhetoric from the Israeli Prime Minister will increase the risk of war and overshadow the voice of the moderates?

Goldberg: Yes, however this comment is the point of view of Israel, but this is does not confirm the government’s position. I’ve also seen polls that show that the majority of Israelis oppose an attack on Iran. The Prime Minister has talked about attacking [Iran] and the last time he spoke about a practical framework on this matter it was in a meeting with the Israeli security cabinet where the talks were leaked to the public and showed that during that time the army and Mossad said this was crazy. I don’t believe he will exercise such an action. However, the position that some of the retired defense officials are taking is that this agreement is a good agreement that Israel can live with. Furthermore, this does not mean it is the end of the world, we are not living in 1938, Iran is not Nazi Germany. Even after all this has been said, it does not affect Netanyahu. He has his own view point and he is sticking to it until this issue is more of a concern for his citizens. If you hear something long enough on the television you will eventually believe it.

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