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Outgoing top defense official who opposed action in 2012 says new nuke deal ‘crap’

Defense official Zohar Palti, center, presents Bahraini Minister of Defense Affairs Abdullah Bin Hassan Al Nuaimi with a memorandum of understanding that had just been signed by Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the Bahraini defense headquarters, on February 3, 2022. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense official Zohar Palti, center, presents Bahraini Minister of Defense Affairs Abdullah Bin Hassan Al Nuaimi with a memorandum of understanding that had just been signed by Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the Bahraini defense headquarters, on February 3, 2022. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Zohar Palti, a former senior Mossad official who wrapped up a stint as head of the military’s political-military bureau this week, is speaking to the media for the first time, opening up about his opposition to Israel attacking Iran a decade ago, and his current opposition to a new nuclear deal which may be nearing finalization.

Speaking to Haaretz, he says he led opposition to Israel taking military action against Iran in 2012, when then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-defense minister Ehud Barak were pushing for a strike.

“During the spring-summer of 2012, the operational preparations reached a peak. In my understanding, they [Netanyahu and Barak] were truly preparing to attack,” he tells Haaretz.

“I am not claiming to read the secrets of the heart. But when the IDF is instructed to deploy for ‘P+16’ [possible attack within 16 days], when air force aerial refueling planes are brought back from long-term servicing, it’s an emergency situation. The air force put all its planes into the air in order to prepare. Quite a few risks were taken in that period.”

“But what are you going to attack in Iran? An enrichment facility? I am in favor of attacking if there is an urgent need, if a sword is held to your throat, as [former Mossad head Meir] Dagan put it. But that was not the situation in 2012 or in the preceding years,” he adds.

Speaking to Channel 13, he claims Israel will be given free rein to act against Iran if it does build a bomb.

“If they go for the bomb, in my opinion there will be no limitations on us. If the Iranians build a bomb and continue on their current path, I don’t know a single democratic state on earth, and certainly none that is allied with us, that would stop us. To the contrary. They would greatly respect our right to make our own decisions, on the basis of our capabilities.”

Palti describes the new nuclear deal as “crap.”

“From the moment the agreement is signed, billions of dollars will flow into Iran. That money will not reach the civilian population, it will go first of all toward financing the terrorism of the Revolutionary Guards,” he tells Haaretz.

 

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