Ex Mossad head predicts dramatic improvement in US-Israel relations if Netanyahu loses election

Ties between the two allies have been strained

A former head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, Efraim Halevy, is predicting a “dramatic” improvement in relations with the US if the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is defeated in elections today.

Ties between the two allies have been strained, especially since Mr Netanyahu addressed the US Congress on 3 March against the wishes of the Obama administration, about the perceived threat to Israel and the world that would ensue from an agreement between Tehran and a group of major powers over Iran’s nuclear programme.

Mr Halevy is among a string of former intelligence chiefs to come out against Mr Netanyahu during the election campaign, foremost among them Meir Dagan, Mossad chief under Ariel Sharon, who was the keynote speaker at an opposition rally.

 

“I think the atmosphere will change dramatically and Israel and the US will be able to return to the state they were in in the past,” Mr Halevy told The Independent. “In the past, the way we conducted our affairs was not confrontational but rather by seeking to find common ground on common issues on which we should co-operate and dealing with the differences behind closed doors and not up front.

“Differences over Iran might persist,” he added. “It’s not a foregone conclusion that a new government in Israel will take a totally different position on the Iranian negotiations. It could be that even the new government will find there are a lot of holes in the agreement that are undesirable. But if this is the case, the method it will be dealt with is quiet negotiation and quiet dialogue with the United States and not confrontational steps to alienate one part of the hierarchy in the US as opposed to the other.”

Mr Halevy does not envision a breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian relations if Mr Netanyahu’s rival, Isaac Herzog, is victorious. “But I think there will be a more orderly and less confrontational relationship. It will depend to a large measure on whether they want to go back to the drawing board and find ways of co-existence. I think the emphasis will be on creating a new kind of atmosphere for a dialogue,” he said.

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