Ex-Mossad chief calls on Israel to speak with Hamas

Efraim HalevyA former director of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency has called on the Israeli government to reach out to Hamas, arguing that the Palestinian group is now ready to accept a peace settlement. Efraim Halevy directed the Mossad, Israel’s primary external intelligence agency, for five years before retiring in 2002. He is best known for helping forge a historic peace treaty between Israel and Jordan in 1994, which made the Hashemite Kingdom the second Arab country, after Egypt, to sing a peace accord with the Jewish state.

Halevy was speaking last week at an annual conference hosted in New York by the Israel-based newspaper The Jerusalem Post. During a panel entitled “Does the World Have an Answer to Islamic Terror?”, Halevy said it was time for Israel to speak to Hamas about the possibility of a peace treaty. The former Mossad director said he knew that “senior figures in the United States” had already established contacts with the Palestinian militant group, which controls the Gaza Strip. He also said that he knew “with certainty” that the leadership of Hamas was prepared to consider some kind of a “temporary settlement” based on the promise of the establishment of a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 Six-Day War borders. “The leadership of Hamas knows that they have no chance of destroying Israel”, said Halevy, adding that “now is the time to talk to Hamas”. According to the retired spy, a temporary settlement between Israel and Hamas that seeks to establish a Palestinian state would amount to a start in negotiations for a recognition of the state of Israel by Hamas. Halevy criticized Israel for refusing to speak with Hamas, saying that “as long as Israel refuses to talk with Hamas, and in the absence of any other alternative, [Hamas] has no option but to do what it does now”.

Last week was not the first time that Halevy has called for Israel to negotiate with Hamas. In July 2014, he told the American television network CNN that there were numerous radical groups in the Gaza Strip that were more threatening to Israel’s security than Hamas, not to mention Sunni Islamist groups like the Islamic State, which posed a much more pertinent challenge to regional stability. Two years earlier, n 2012, Halevy had issued a public call for dialogue between Israel and Iran, saying that “the Iranians, in their heart of hearts, would like to get out of their conundrum”, referring to Tehran’s nuclear program.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 01 June 2016 | Permalink

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Israel should negotiate with Hamas, says former Mossad chief

Efraim HalevyBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
A former director of the Israeli covert-action agency Mossad, who helped forge a historic peace treaty between Israel and Jordan in the 1990s, has called for the Jewish state to negotiate with Palestinian group Hamas. Efraim Halevy, who directed the Mossad from 1998 to 2002, told American television network CNN on Tuesday that numerous radical groups in the Gaza Strip would be far more threatening to Israel’s security than Hamas. Speaking to CNN’s chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, Halevy said that Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, “is a very bad option” for Israel, but that the militant Sunni Islamist groups coming out of Syria and Iraq are “a lot worse” and posed a much more pertinent challenge to regional stability. He specifically mentioned the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, known as ISIS, which has emerged as the most powerful non-state actor in the region, saying that “ISIS has its tentacles in the Gaza Strip too”. Amanpour retorted that, by negotiating with Hamas, Israel would effectively legitimize the militant group. But Halevy said that, while it would be “politically inconvenient” for Israel to reach out to Hamas, the fact is that Tel Aviv has been negotiating with the Palestinian group “for years”. Even though Israel and Hamas insist on refusing to publicly acknowledge each other’s existence, in reality they have been negotiating with each other for a long time, he said. “We [presumably the Mossad] have had several rounds with Hamas in recent years, and the previous rounds ended up in agreements —arrangements, as it was called”, said the former Mossad chief. “But in effect”, he went on, “it was a negotiation between us and Hamas”. As an example, Halevy mentioned the release of Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, who was captured in 2006 in a cross-border raid by Hamas forces. He was released in 2011 as part of a prisoner exchange agreement between the Palestinian group and Israel. In 2012, Halevy issued a public call for dialogue between Israel and Iran, saying that “the Iranians, in their heart of hearts, would like to get out of their conundrum”, referring to Tehran’s nuclear program. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #811

Efraim HalevyBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Former Mossad chief pushes for dialogue with Iran. After Meir Dagan, another former chief of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad has publicly called for a dialogue between the West and Iran. Speaking to Al-Monitor, an American website covering Middle-East news, Halevy, who directed the Mossad from 1998 to 2002, said that “the Iranians, in their heart of hearts, would like to get out of their conundrum”. IntelNews readers may remember Halevy’s comments in August, when he warned that Israel’s threats of a military attack on Iran were “credible” and “serious”, adding that, if he were an Iranian, he would be “very fearful of the next 12 weeks”.
►►UK says attack on Iran ‘not right course at this time’. The British government has reiterated that it does not believe military action against Iran would be appropriate at the moment, following the disclosure that Britain has rebuffed US requests to use UK military bases to support the buildup of forces in the Gulf. US diplomats have lobbied for the use of British bases in Cyprus, and for permission to fly from US bases on Ascension Island in the Atlantic and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, both of which are British territories.
►►German spy agencies disclose spy tools in rare move. Most law enforcement agencies refuse to reveal the surveillance technologies they use, claiming doing so could threaten national security. But authorities in Germany have shown it is possible to be transparent without the sky falling in —by disclosing how they have spent millions on spy tools to help monitor Skype, email, and mobile phones. Earlier this year, German politician Jan Korte submitted a series of written questions to the country’s federal ministry of home affairs regarding surveillance tools. The answers Korte received were published in German in July, but have only this month been translated (.pdf) into English.

Israeli intelligence insiders warn of ‘imminent’ attack on Iran

Efraim HalevyBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
If Iranian government officials had a uranium centrifuge for each time a warning is issued of an impending military attack on Tehran, they would undoubtedly have a nuclear weapon by now. Warnings about such an attack are now ‘a-dime-a-dozen’. Yet it is admittedly difficult to ignore the increasing frequency with which such warnings are being issued by leading retired intelligence officials in Israel. Last week alone, two intelligence insiders, Major-General Danny Yatom and Efraim Halevy, both former Directors of the Mossad, Israel’s main external intelligence agency, said a military attack on Iran was imminent. Speaking on Wednesday, Halevy said that Israel’s threats of a military attack were “credible” and “serious”, adding that, if he were an Iranian, he would be “very fearful of the next 12 weeks”. His comments were echoed on Sunday by Major-General Yatom, who told Israel’s Army Radio that the debate among senior Israeli security officials was not over whether Israel should strike Iran, but about when it should do so. The two men spoke shortly after a similar warning was issued by Major-General Aharon Ze’evi Farkash, former chief of Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate. Farkash, who is not a proponent of an all-out military operation against Iran, said that an Israeli attack would probably come “within weeks, or a couple of months”. It is worth pointing out that all three men issued their public warnings along with significant reservations about the way Israel is handing the situation with Iran. Halevy said that, in his view, “it would not be desirable for Israel to act alone” against Iran and warned of a potentially serious international backlash. Major-General Farkash reiterated his previously stated position that an open military attack on Iran at this point in time would be premature and would “ruin the legitimacy that is needed” in order to permanently stop Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions. Read more of this post

Attacking Iran ‘a stupid idea’ says Mossad ex-chief

Meir Dagan

Meir Dagan

By IAN ALLEN| intelNews.org |
The former director of Israel’s Mossad spy agency has described the option of a military attack by Israel on Iran’s nuclear installations as “the stupidest thing I have ever heard”. Meir Dagan, who led the Mossad from 2002 until January of this year, was speaking publicly for the first time since his retirement, at a conference held at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. He told conference participants that any military action against Iran would be “patently illegal under international law” and that it would probably not achieve its goals, since Iranian nuclear installations are deliberately dispersed in locations across that vast country. Consequently, the widespread nature of the attack could lead to a prolonged war, “the kind of thing where we know how it starts, but not how it will end”, said Dagan. His comments found their way to the front pages of most Israeli newspapers over the weekend, and were headlined in television and radio station news programs, prompting responses by several former and acting Israeli officials. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #413

  • Complex politics behind Ugandan spy chief’s removal. The recent sacking of Dr Amos Mukumbi from heading Uganda‘s Internal Security Organisation (ISO) was the handiwork of politics, intrigue and suspicion within the country’s intelligence community and between politicians. It was also related to ongoing turf wars between the ISO and its sister agency, the External Security Organisation.
  • Experts still evaluating WikiLeaks impact. Some analysts believe that the US intelligence establishment will call for an increased clampdown on secrecy in the wake of the WikiLeaks Afghan War Diary files release. But the data dump has also spurred those arguing that the US government needs to reduce the amount of information it classifies as secret, much of which may be unnecessary.
  • Radio program investigates the Mossad. BBC Radio has aired a relatively well-produced primer on Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. The BBC’s Security Correspondent Gordon Corera interviews former Mossad Director Efraim Halevy and former Mossad operative Rafi Eitan, among others.

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