A former head of Israel’s internal security agency has backed prime ministerial hopeful Isaac Herzog ahead of Tuesday’s general election, criticizing incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu for his security record.
“Why is this the moment to give Herzog a chance? Mainly because Netanyahu has failed in almost every area and because Herzog is the better alternative,” Yuval Diskin, who headed the Shin Bet agency from 2005 to 2011, wrote on Facebook.
Netanyahu has campaigned for the general election on a security mandate, casting himself as the person best capable of leading Israel against the threat of Iran and regional jihadist groups.
But Diskin criticized the premier on his safety record as well as his approach to peace talks with the Palestinians, which the former security chief said were “conducted with astonishing ineffectiveness.”
Diskin said he was against the Netanyahu-approved prisoner swap in 2011 that saw Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit released from Hamas captivity in return for more than 1,000 Palestinian security prisoners. Netanyahu also released dozens of Palestinian terrorists in the framework of the failed 2013-14 US-led peace effort.
“Netanyahu freed dozens of terrorists, several of them dangerous,” Diskin wrote.
Diskin also criticized the most recent Israeli military campaign in Gaza last year, which he said “had achieved no decisive result” against Hamas.
The Zionist Union, a coalition of Herzog’s Labour party and the centrist Hatnua led by former chief negotiator Tzipi Livni, has made a show of the support it has received from Israel’s security sector, traditionally a key voter influence.
Former military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin has joined the Zionist Union list and is tipped to become defense minister if Herzog is the next prime minister.
As well as Diskin, two former heads of the Mossad spy service, Meir Dagan and Shabtai Shavit, have also publicly criticized Netanyahu’s security record.