Yuval Diskin, ex-Israel security chief, says Netanyahu unfit to lead


Former Shin Bet security chief Yuval Diskin, right, speaks to Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi during a special cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office March 17, 2009 in Jerusalem.



Days before Israel elects a new leader, a former security chief has again offered stinging criticism of the country’s prime minister.

Yuval Diskin, who led Israel’s internal security agency from 2005 to 2011 before retiring, told an Israeli newspaper that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is unfit for office.

“Netanyahu is scared, fickle and shirking responsibility,” Diskin told Yediot Ahronoth in a sweeping interview published Friday.

“There is a crisis of leadership here, a crisis of values and total contempt for the public. Maybe people will think I'm exaggerating, but I’m telling you: From close up it looks even worse.”

He also had harsh words for Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and said the men lack necessary tools to make decisions about Iran or the Palestinian conflict.

Netanyahu governs from “personal, opportunistic and current interests.”

More from GlobalPost: Israel attacking Iran suddenly back on table

The interview spanned 5,000 words in a leading publication, The New York Times reported.

Reaction was as expected, with the Israeli government brushing off Diskin’s comments as sour grapes because he was passed over to lead Mossad, the country’s spy agency.

Diskin’s criticism is “groundless,” “motivated by his personal frustration” and “recycled for political reasons,” an Israeli government statement in The Times said.

However, there are those that agree with Diskin, with one Israeli-Iranian blogger saying the leadership is “obsessing with the military option.”

“The avalanche of public criticism of their Iran narrative is getting bigger and gathering more momentum,” Middle East analyst Meir Javedanfar told The Times.

Last April, Diskin made many of the same comments.

He told a conference that Netanyahu and Barak are misguided if they believe a strike against Iran would derail its suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons.

“I don’t trust management that relies on messianic leadership,” he said then.

Israel goes to the polls on Jan. 22.

More from GlobalPost: Yuval Diskin, Israeli ex-intel chief, slams Netanyahu's Iran stance