Israel Ex-security Chief Backs Netanyahu Election Rival Herzog

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 record in security.

“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,” Youval Diskin, who headed the Shin Bet agency from 2005 to 2011, wrote on Facebook.

Diskin has vehemently condemned Netanyahu’s security policy since he ended his term at Shin Bet, according to Israeli news sources.

Netanyahu has campaigned for the general election on a security mandate, casting himself as the only person capable of leading Israel against the threat of Iran and regional militant groups.

But Diskin, who also served under Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, 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.”

He said he was against the prisoner swap in 2011 that saw Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit released in return for hundreds of Palestinian inmates.

“Netanyahu freed dozens of terrorists, several of them dangerous,” he wrote.

Diskin also criticized the most recent Israeli military campaign in Gaza last year, which he said “had achieved no decisive result” against Hamas militants.

The Zionist Union, a coalition of Herzog’s Labor party and the centrist HaTnuah 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.

Diskin added his support for a centrist left-wing coalition, writing, ” I am a big believer in having a large bloc of centrist and left-wing Zionist parties forming a coalition, which would then be joined by other partners that will bring unity and sanity back to Israeli society, closing socioeconomic gaps, halting racism and nationalist fulminations, restoring clean patriotism, and ensuring security and international legitimacy.”

As well as Diskin, the former head of the Mossad spy service Meir Dagan has also publicly criticized Netanyahu’s security record.

(Agencies and Ma’an – www.maannews.net)

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