Former Israel spy chief in Belarus for liver transplant


Former Mossad spy chief Meir Dagan underwent a liver transplant in Belarus last week and is in intensive care, Israeli media reported Tuesday.

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, speaking at a press conference in Minsk Tuesday, announced “that a former Mossad chief had been operated on in the country ten days ago and was currently in recovery,” the Jerusalem Post wrote, adding that while Lukashenko didn’t identify the patient by name, Israeli media named him as Dagan.

“Dagan’s illness, cancer, was known for a couple of months to a small group of confidants and colleagues and me, but it was decided for reasons of not invading his privacy not to report it,” veteran Israeli intelligence journalist Yossi Melman told Al-Monitor by email Tuesday. “Tonight the Belarus President Alexander Lukaschenko revealed it in a press conference trying to gain pr for himself and his pariah regime.”

Two months ago, Dagan went to Sloane Kettering hospital in New York for medical checks hoping to find a compatible organ, but in vain, Melman said. “He returned to Israel and his health was deteriorating.”

Dagan subsequently resigned from his position as director and consultant to various Israeli and foreign companies and flew two weeks ago to Minsk with his family for the surgery, said Melman, co-author with Dan Raviv of a recent book on Israeli intelligence, Spies Against Armageddon.

Since stepping down as Israel’s spy chief in 2011, Dagan has become a key voice in Israel and the United States expressing opposition to unilateral Israeli military action on Iran.

“An attack on Iran before you are exploring all other approaches is not the right way how to do it,” Dagan told CBS’s 60 Minutes in a March 2012 interview.

“I heard very carefully what President Obama said. And he said openly that the military option is on the table, and he is not going to let Iran become a nuclear state,” Dagan continued. “If I prefer that somebody will do it, I always prefer that Americans will do it.”

(Photo: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) hugs Meir Dagan, the outgoing director of Israel’s spy agency Mossad, after thanking him at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem January 2, 2011. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun.)

Friday reads: War games

Iran war game shows rapid escalation as US, Iran misread others’ moves. (David Ignatius/Washington Post)

State Department rejects Sen. John Kerry’s call to block US funds to Iraq over alleged Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps overflights to supply arms to Syria. (Reuters)

Iraqi government spokesman Ali Aldabbbagh tells Al-Monitor that the Iraqi government has informed Iran that it will not allow its air space to be used to supply either side in Syria’s civil war. “We had informed the Iranians that Iraq will never [allow the] use [of] its airspace to do so.” (Al Monitor)

New AIPAC spokesman Marshall Wittman once worked as a lobbyist for Ralph Reed’s Christian Coalition. (The Forward)

Egyptian author Alaa Al-Aswany writes how the Muslim world can defend the prophet. (Al-Safir/Al-Monitor)

Recent Israeli war games in the Golan Heights are an important signal to Iran, writes former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy (Ydioth Ahronoth/Al Monitor)

Former Israeli spy chief Meir Dagan becomes a dissident. (The New Yorker)

(Photo: An Israeli soldier travels atop a mobile artillery unit during a drill near the northern city of Katzrin in the Golan Heights September 19, 2012. Israel’s military launched the surprise large-scale exercise on Wednesday on the occupied Golan Heights, testing its battle readiness amid tensions over Iran’s nuclear drive and civil war in Syria. REUTERS/Baz Ratner)

Clinton in Israel: Iran nuclear proposals “non-starters”

Iran’s proposals to date in three rounds of nuclear talks with the P5+1 are “non-starters,” and suggest Iran’s leadership has not yet made the decision to compromise on its nuclear program, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday in Israel.

“I made very clear that the proposals that we have seen from Iran thus far within the P5+1 negotiations are non-starters,” Clinton told reporters after a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday, CNN reported.

“Despite three rounds of talks, Iran has yet to make a strategic decision to address the international community’s concerns and fulfill their obligations under the IAEA and the UN Security Council,” Clinton said. “The choice is ultimately Iran’s to make.”

Iran is willing to discuss halting its 20% enrichment, but has balked to date at doing so without getting upfront recognition of its right to enrich for energy purposes.

“The issue of the 20% enrichment …is an issue that could be discussed and decided,” Iran’s UN envoy Mohammad Khazaee told Al Monitor in an interview July 12. “It is not off the table. … It is possible to close the gap.”

Clinton conducted the most high-profile visit of a recent “cavalcade” of high-ranking American officials traveling to Israel to huddle on Iran. Among the parade of senior US visitors: National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns, Assistant Secretary of Defense Derek Chollet, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in the coming weeks.

The intense US-Israel consultations are aimed, from Washington’s perspective, at trying to reassure Israel’s leadership not to conduct strikes on Iran, likely in the fall. Despite Clinton’s assertion Monday that the United States and Israel are currently “on the same page” on Iran, Israeli leaders have apparently not eased American concerns about their intentions.

“For the first time on the agenda are serious crippling sanctions,” former Israeli Knesset Defense and Security Committee member Ephraim Sneh said at a July 12th round-table hosted by the Israel Policy Forum in New York, referring to tough new European Union sanctions on the import of Iranian oil, which went into effect July 1. “We have hardly two months to implement them. I advise those who can implement them, ‘Don’t put Israel in a corner.'”

Asked what specifically is in two months–i.e., September, Sneh said that Israel’s more limited military capabilities constrain its timetable and calendar for action. Continue reading

Ex-Israeli spy chief Meir Dagan headlines motley group pressing for tougher sanctions against Iran

Since stepping down as Mossad director early last year, former Israeli spy chief Meir Dagan has led the Israeli charge against an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. He has argued that Iran’s nuclear program has already been set back–(including by covert activities undertaken during his leadership of the Mossad)–and that Israel should continue to let the US-led international alliance pressure Iran to curb its nuclear program.

Today, Dagan takes his argument to the Wall Street Journal–notably in an oped jointly written by an international group of Iran hawks, including former CIA director Jim Woolsey, and two former George W. Bush administration officials aligned with the GOP, Mark Wallace, the head of United Against a Nuclear Iran, and Kristen Silverberg, former Bush-era ambassador to the EU. The oped argues that now is the time to double down on economic sanctions against Iran:


As the Iranian regime races to fulfill its nuclear ambitions, the world faces a stark choice. Our near future carries the risk of a military conflict with Iran, or a nuclear arms race in the already-volatile Middle East. It is still possible to avoid these outcomes, but only if like-minded nations act immediately to deliver a potentially decisive economic blow to the regime. Continue reading