BLOG: Former Mossad Chief Tamir Pardo Adds Voice to Security Establishment’s Critique of Netanyahu’s Stances

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Benjy Cannon
on September 1, 2016

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Ex-Mossad Chief Tamir Pardo has joined the growing ranks of Israeli security experts and former officials pressing Netanyahu to do more to advance a two-state solution.

At a press conference Tuesday, in advance of an event commemorating fallen Druze soldiers, Pardo made a number of interesting comments.

Responding to a question about threats facing Israel, Pardo refuted the argument that Iran remains an existential threat to Israel. He said:

I don’t think there is an external existential threat at the moment. I’ve said this more than two or three times. I’ve said it openly and clearly when I’ve been asked. I don’t think one exists.

Rather, Pardo argued that Israel’s greatest threats are its internal divisions. He also had some tough words for Avigdor Lieberman’s analogy between the Iran deal and the Munich pact, stating that the comparison was like comparing “zucchinis and pears.” He added that “What happened at the end of the 1930s is different from what is happening today. History does not repeat itself [in such a way that justifies] such an analogy.”

Finally, Pardo called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to do more to advance a two-state solution. He noted that Netanyahu “has endorsed the idea of Palestinian independence and called on the Israeli leader to “follow that path.” He went on to say that without a solution “[Israel] will never be able to achieve normalization with our neighbors.”

Pardo’s comments track closely with statements from other Israeli security experts, a phenomenon that Israeli Member of Knesset Nachman Shai tied to the growing gap between Israel’s security establishment and government:

“The former Mossad chief is breaking the silence and revealing, like his predecessors in the Shin Bet and the Mossad, that the dangers posed from within are more serious than external threats.

Pardo joins a long line of gatekeepers and senior security officials pointing to the grim reality that the State of Israel is in nowadays and to the internal dangers lying in wait for it. Citizen Netanyahu should take notice.”

Reading this latest example, I find myself asking, once again, what it’s going to take to get Israel’s government to act on the advice of its military experts. Troublingly, Pardo’s announcement coincided with a New York Times’ story about Israel’s ongoing practice of quietly legalizing illegal outposts in the West Bank, which feeds into a larger plan to undercut the possibility of a Palestinian state by destroying the prospects for territorial contiguity.

This doesn’t just break Israeli and international law, make life even harder for Palestinians and threaten a two-state solution, it directly contradicts advice from Israel’s leading security experts. A recent poll found that despite the immense challenges on the ground, most Israelis and Palestinians continue to support a two-state solution. They share that perspective with American Jews, the international community and Israel’s military establishment. Israel’s government and the radical settler minority stand isolated in their opposition to it. And yet, they refuse to budge.

Pardo added that he remains optimistic about Israel’s future “for the sake of our children and grandchildren.” If Israel’s government remains obstinate, the pro-Israel community must reckon with their responsibility in advancing the two-state solution and securing Pardo’s optimistic vision the next generation.