Former Mossad Chief Efraim Halevy is calling for a dialogue between the West and Iran amid overwhelming denials of reported US-Iran talks over Tehran's disputed nuclear program.
"The Iranians, in their heart of hearts, would like to get out of their conundrum," Halevy told Al-Monitor, an American website covering Middle-East news. "The sanctions have been very effective. They are beginning to really hurt."
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Halevy, 78, served as chief of the Mossad in the years 1998-2003 and was a key player in the secret negotiations that led to the peace treaty with Jordan’s King Hussein.
In an interview with the American website, Halevy stressed the need for negotiating with Iran.
“I realized that dialogue with an enemy is essential," Halevy told Al-Monitor reporter Laura Rozen. "There is nothing to lose. Although the claim was, if you talk to them, you legitimize them. But by not talking to them, you don't de-legitimate them. So this convinced me, that we all have been very superficial in dealing with our enemies.”
The former Mossad chief also addressed Israel's position regarding Hamas, arguing that "in order to meet public opinion, both Israel and the US governments have tied our own hands. In the end, you create an inherent disadvantage for yourself.”
“On Iran, you have to go much deeper,” Halevy said. “You have to understand what it is that makes Iran tick. The Iranians, in their heart of hearts, would like to get out of their conundrum. The sanctions have been very effective. They are beginning to really hurt."
Halevy further criticized Israeli diplomacy on the Iranian issue, saying that “If the purpose was to exert pressure to bring the other side to the table, the rhetoric should be different."
Achieving a deal with Iran, Halevy added, would be "extremely difficult. It needs a lot of creativity. And courage, political courage."
He also criticized Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, saying that Romney was damaging the interests of both the US and Israel. "What Romney is doing is mortally destroying any chance of a resolution without war," Halevy argued. "Obama does think there is still room for negotiations. It’s a very courageous thing to say in this atmosphere."
The former Mossad chief said in an interview with the New York Times two months ago: "If I were an Iranian, I would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks," which he said in reference to a possible strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. In the same interview, however, Halevy insisted that a strike on Iran should come as a last resort.
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