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Israeli spymaster criticizes Netanyahu from the grave

Meir Dagan led the Mossad from 2002 through 2010

Published: Updated:

A former head of Israeli spy agency Mossad harshly criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a posthumous interview published Monday, accusing him of putting personal interests above national concerns.

Meir Dagan, who died aged 71 on March 17, led the Mossad from 2002 through 2010, notably working to thwart Iran’s nuclear programme while also opposing a military strike against it.

He held a series of conversations with a journalist from Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth before his death that were withheld until Monday.

“I knew a lot of prime ministers,” he said.

“None of them were saintly types. But they had one shared trait: When they reached the point in which their personal interest intersected with the national interest, the national interest always prevailed. There are only two I can’t say that about -- Bibi and Barak.”

Bibi is Netanyahu’s nickname, while Barak refers to former prime minister and defense minister Ehud Barak.

Netanyahu and then defense minister Barak were reported to have given the order in 2010 for the military to prepare a strike against Iran, which was never carried out.

Dagan strongly opposed such a strike, a position shared by the military’s then-chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi.

“Bibi is the worst manager I know,” said the former spymaster who suffered from liver cancer and underwent a transplant.

“The worst thing is that he’s got a certain trait that’s kind of like Ehud Barak -- the two of them believe that they’re the greatest geniuses in the world and that no one gets what it is that they really want.”

On his opposition to a military strike against Iran, Dagan said that “the working assumption, as if it would be possible to fully stop the Iranian nuclear programme by means of a military strike, is incorrect.”

“That military capacity doesn’t exist,” said Dagan.

“The only thing that can be accomplished is to suspend, and that would be for a defined period of time.”

Under Dagan’s leadership, the Mossad is believed to have assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists, caused explosions at nuclear facilities and used computer viruses to damage uranium centrifuges.

The Mossad has never confirmed such operations.

Further details of the interviews with Dagan are to be published on Friday, the newspaper said.