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June 1, 2016 4:26 pm

Former Mossad Chief: Iran Poses No Existential Threat; Israel’s Existence Assured for Next 1,000 Years (VIDEO)

avatar by Ruthie Blum

Former Mossad director Efraim Halevy, in an interview with Al Jazeera. Photo: Screenshot.

Former Mossad director Efraim Halevy, in an interview with Al Jazeera. Photo: Screenshot.

“There is no existential threat to Israel from anybody in the world, including the Iranians, as it has adequate responses to any threat that the Iranians pose,” a former director of Israel’s national intelligence agency said on Wednesday, asserting that the Jewish state’s existence is “assured for the next 1,000 years.”

Ex-Mossad chief Efraim Halevy made this claim during an interview with Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan, who asked him whether Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other members of the government were “lying” when they repeatedly suggested that the nuclear deal with Tehran imperiled Israel’s survival.

“They’re not lying,” Halevy answered. “They think differently than I think.”

When Hasan challenged him, saying, “Yours is a minority view,” Halevy shot back: “I’m not sure whether it’s a minority or a majority view. I know many people in the establishment who believe what I’m saying – that we have sufficient capability to assure our existence. But why is fear being used as a tool to assure Israel’s support of one side or another? This, unfortunately, goes back to our recent history of the last 100 years, because those who quote the existential threat also go back to the Holocaust, and I believe there is no comparison between the Holocaust and what is happening now. Because in the Holocaust, we were defenseless. And today, we are the strongest military power in the Middle East.”

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Halevy agreed “to some extent” with the suggestion that vociferous opposition to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was for internal political consumption. Since the deal was signed, he said, “Look how silent most of the Israeli leaders are on Iran. Suddenly, it’s almost a deafening silence. Whereas before the deal was signed, almost every day, people were railing against it and so forth, suddenly, the tone has changed. And suddenly, it’s possible for the Israeli prime minister to go to Moscow, and to talk to the Russian president, at the same time that the Iranians are coming to Moscow. And they are now probably one of the biggest allies of the Russians in the Middle East.”

Grilled about Israel’s own nuclear program, and whether it is fair for Israel to have nuclear weapons, but  not for Iran to have them, Halevy remained tight-lipped. “If you are asking me whether Israel has nuclear weapons, my answer is that I don’t know.”

Hasan was incredulous and continued to belabor the point – questioning whether it was possible that someone who headed the Mossad would not have been informed about whether his country possessed nukes.

“First of all, I don’t have to disclose [what I was told]. Secondly, in order to be head of Mossad, I don’t have to be a person who knows whether we have nukes or not,” Halevy said.

“Do you believe Israel has nukes?” Hasan asked, to which Halevy replied: “It’s not a question of belief. I don’t deal in beliefs. I believe that the question of whether Israel does or does not have nuclear capabilities is a question which Israel has decided not to address. And I think we are in our rights not to address it.”

Hasan then pressed Halevy about what he would think if a former chief of Iranian intelligence said something similar about his country’s nuclear ambitions, and whether it would be his right not to address the question.

“Yes, it’s his right,” said Halevy, “because we know now that Iran does have it and it’s a matter of public knowledge. We don’t have to ask him the question.”

“It’s a matter of public knowledge about Israel’s nuclear program,” Hasan said.

“I don’t think that the same applies to Israel and Iran,” Halevy responded, adding that “if there is a government which threatens the destruction of a state in the world, then I think it is incumbent upon the world to take that state to task, and see to it that it does not have the capability to destroy Israel.”

Halevy, who was born in London and immigrated to Israel in 1948, was the ninth director of the Mossad, during the 1960s. He is credited with being instrumental in the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, signed in 1994.

In July 2015, after the JCPOA was announced, Halevy told Israel’s Channel 2: “In this deal there are a number of elements that are very good for the state of Israel. There are less good elements, but it is not an agreement that is entirely bad. There are problems with the inspections. There is the problem that after 10-15 years, there is the option for Iran to make a nuclear bomb… But in a situation where it is impossible to separate Iran from a nuclear weapon, inasmuch as Iran refuses to give up on all of its capabilities, they reached an agreement that facilitates other kinds of options, that yielded a period of time in which it is possible to create a different atmosphere in the Middle East.”

 See the full Al Jazeera interview below:

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