Officials in the defense establishment fired back at former Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin,
who on Friday deemed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
and Defense Minister Ehud Barak
unfit to lead the Israeli government.
"Diskin's statements aren't new or surprising," one state official told Ynet. "(…) He had always opposed a strike (on Iran), and asserted that it would spur the development of a nuclear weapon in the country. What is surprising is the timing of his statements, and his references to the prime minister and the defense minister.
"It's peculiar; Diskin doesn't complain about Barak and Netanyahu's past decisions, and doesn't claim that it's impossible to work with them. It appears like an attack planned by (former Mossad Chief) Dagan
and Diskin, but their motives are unclear."
Saturday evening, sources close to Prime Minister Netanyahu responded to the criticism, saying that Diskin spoke irresponsibly and out of personal frustration for not being appointed head of Mossad
Diskin accused Netanyahu and Barak on Friday of peddling the "false notion" that an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities would bar the country from developing an atom bomb.
Speaking at a conference in central Israel,
Diskin declared his distrust in the two ministers' leadership capabilities.
"I don't trust management that relies on messianic leadership. Our two messiahs from Caesarea and from the Akrirov Towers are not fit to stand at the helm of the government," he said.
A senior minister who has a close relationship with Netanyahu slammed Diskin's choice of a personal attack, and said his statements were highly inappropriate.
"He perpetuates a grand legacy of moronic Shin Bet chiefs," the minister said.
Vice Premier Silvan Shalom issued a response to Diskin's statements as well: "Things like that shouldn't be said. This whole discussion on the Iranian issue should be conducted differently. I have great appreciation for Diskin, he was an excellent Shin Bet chief. But with all due respect, the opinions of the Mossad and the IDF chief have more weight are much more determinant.
"I trust that Barak and Netanyahu are managing the situation in a fitting manner… Everyone is united on the fact that Israel cannot live with a (Iranian) nuclear bomb… The disagreement is over the timeline."
He added that he is "a big believer" in the power of economic sanctions over the Islamic Republic.
Minister Limor Livnat joined Diskin's critics, asserting that the manner of his conduct was "unbefitting" of his standing.
"It is unfortunate that he evades responsibility, and chooses to attack the prime minister for reasons that are unclear, in a way that could be damaging to Israel," she said.
MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen hinted that Diskin's choice of timing for his statements was politically motivated.
"If this was really his opinion about the prime minister and the defense minister, we would have expected him to voice it in real time instead of waiting for an election year to suddenly remember that the leadership is unfit and dangerous for the state's security," he said.
Moran Azulay contributed to the report