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Is Netanyahu misleading his ministers on Iran?

Former National Security Advisor Uzi Arad claims Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered him to refrain from providing ministers with contradictory data.

Yedioth Ahronoth’s weekend supplement published a very long and equally stunning interview with disgraced National Security Advisor Uzi Arad. Arad, who was forced to resign last year, was interviewed by Nachum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer, and told them about the Byzantine court surrounding Netanyahu, and exposed the shocking fact he was interrogated by the Israel Security Agency for hours in the Ben Gurion Airport as he came back from a mission in the US. But there’s one point which should trouble every Israeli, which was not emphasized enough.

During the interview, Arad – a long-time Netanyahu follower  –  says twice that he lost favor with the prime minister when he began contradicting his position on Iran during discussions. Even worse from Netanyahu’s point of view, he provided the government with a different assessment about Iran and the way to thwart it. After one of those occasions, says Arad, Netanyahu took him aside and ordered him to refrain from contradicting him in the presence of others. According to Arad, Netanyahu was particularly worried that Arad’s documents may serve the investigative committee which will follow the Israeli attack on Iran. Netanyahu’s bureau did not deny those accusations.

This is a point which must be investigated. Neither the PM nor the Minister of Security command the army; the commander is the government, a collective body. A prime minister who refuses to divulge contradictory information to his ministers is a prime minister who sabotages their ability to make an informed decision on that issue.

Does Netanyahu deny his ministers relevant information on Iran? (Photo: Downing Street, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Does Netanyahu deny his ministers relevant information on Iran? (Photo: Downing Street, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The government’s control of the armed forces in Israel has a chequered history. To make a long story short, as long as the government controlled the army, it succeeded or at least managed to avoid disaster. When it let slip of that control – particularly when it allowed factions within the government, with the minister of security always a participant, take control – calamity was often the result. The process’ lowest point was probably in 2006, when Shimon Peres, then a minister of something or other, opposed the decision to begin the Second Lebanon War – but voted for it anyway, telling the Winograd investigative committee that “you don’t vote against the prime minister in a time of war.” Such abdication of responsibility is hardly surprising when you’re familiar with Peres’ history; yet we must not allow it to repeat itself.

Now we are being told by Arad that Netanyahu is blinding his ministers from seeing the full picture. One can hardly think of a better reason for an investigatiive committee, which, should it find Arad told the truth, send Netanyahu home, and irrevocably tarnish the careers of ministers who agreed to be turned into marionettes. One Shimon Peres is more than enough.

This is particularly important as Israel and Iran are not, and have never been, in a state of war. The two countries, testified Foreign Minister David Levi a decade ago, never declared war on each other. Earlier wars and operations were declared by the governments against countries with which Israel was at war; this is not the case with Iran. This war should be debated by the Knesset – particularly if it is true that Netanyahu is misleading his ministers.

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    1. XYZ

      IF it is true that Netanyahu is keeping his gov’t in the dark, this is following a long tradition of dictatorial Prime Ministers who refuse to share information. This is how the Oslo and Gaza/Gush Katif fiascos were foisted on the country….the Prime Minister (Rabin/Peres and Sharon) suddenly announces a policy without consulting his cabinet and then rams it through without discussion, with dissenters being threatened.
      No wonder both turned into bloody disasters…

      Reply to Comment
    2. JG

      But wasn’t Arad for war with Iran as recent as 2010? I’m missing the timeline here. Ynet did not yet take the time to translate the article into English.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Mihai-Robert Soran

      Attacks aren’t automatically war. Just see Entebbe.
      Pre-emptive attacks aren’t automatically war (see UN Charta).
      Basic Law states:
      51. (a) The state may only begin a war pursuant to a Government decision.

      (b) Nothing in the provisions of this section will prevent the adoption of military actions necessary for the the defence of the state and public security.

      (c) Notification of a Government decision to begin a war under the provision of subsection (a) will be submitted to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee as soon as possible; the Prime Minister also will give notice to the Knesset plenum as soon as possible; notification regarding military actions as stated in subsection (b) will be given to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee as soon as possible.

      51 (b) allows the PM with or w/o the “small/security cabinet” to start a war in the case of an emergency decision w/o consulting the whole cabinet.
      51 (c) doesn’t request any involvement of the Knesset prior to the start of a war (ASAP is enough, and means: after the fact…)

      This all doesn’t mean that Netanyahu is honest with his cabinet. Since he’s a narcissist paranoiac psychopath with a father complex , he’ll never trust anybody. But in Israel nobody can keep a planned attack on Iran more than 36 hours in advance of its start. Too many people need to be involved, including the civil defense.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Sol Salbe

      JG, to translate something you have to have it. Ynet (Heb) & Ynetnews (Eng) are different entities to Yedioth Acharonoth even though they have a common ownership. The interview would have appeared in one of the weekend supplements of the latter. In four and a half months in Israel last northern summer, I did not see a single article from those supplements make it to Ynet, let alone Ynetnews. Can’t see why they will make an exception this weekend. A check a few minutes ago suggest that Ynet does not have it in Hebrew so it cannot be translated by them.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Mikesailor

      I find it curious at the utter lack of outrage as Netanyahu copies the Geotge W. Bush playbook which lead to the US involvement in the recognized fiasco of the Iraq war. As botht the Israeli and the US media adopt a jingoistic propaganda effort, masquerading as ‘patriotic’, to demonize Iran, the analogy to the lead up to Iraq are all too evident. The selected disclosure of ‘intelligence’ without offering any caveats is all too familiar. This whole escapade is a lie, yet the ‘man in the street’, unaware of any evidence contradicting the unwarranted assertions by the government is left in a state of anxiety which the same government offers to assuage by military action. The creation of, and pandering to, fear. For using fear and anxiety to create political advantage is a common tactic used by governments when domestically, things are ‘getting out of hand’.

      Reply to Comment
    6. kafantaris

      It seems that our tolerance for dissent is not shared by our closest ally — one for whom we are now ready to start WWIII.
      Apparently this ally also does not share our respect for freedom of speech. Just last week it raided two private TV stations, giving bogus reasons for doing so.
      Or maybe it reasoned as follows:
      When Palestinian TV is on, it shows Sesame Street.
      When it shows Sesame Street, it shows Bert.
      When it shows Bert, it shows it might be OK to be gay.
      When it shows it might be OK to be gay, the TV censors monitoring start to come out.
      When the TV censors come out, they get friendly with the Palestinians.
      Don’t let your TV censors get friendly with the Palestinians.
      Go raid Palestinian TV.

      Reply to Comment