(Commentary by Nahum Barnea, "Yediot Ahronot", Feb 15, 1998, pp. 1,22)
When Yossi Ciechanover, the head of the committee investigating the
Masha'al affair, hesitated about whether to recommend the dismissal of
Mossad chief Danny Yatom, he thought of Dado. Dado -- David Elazar, IDF
chief-of-staff during the Yom Kippur War -- was dismissed in accordance
with the recommendations of the Agranat Commission, and died heart-broken.
"They finished him," Ciechanover said.
Ciechanover and his ally on the committee, Dan Tolkowsky, thought that
Yatom had erred -- but that there was no malice or criminal negligence
involved. "I will not bury a man," said Ciechanover.
A majority of the Committee took note of the fact that another difficult
incident had occurred during the same week as the failure in Jordan -- 12
Naval commandos were killed during an ambush in Lebanon and, although (in
their view) the damage in Lebanon had been far greater, nobody was
dismissed. Against the backdrop of this comparison, the majority preferred
to avoid any dismissals. Not only did they leave Yatom alone, but they
were also lenient on both H., who was found mainly responsible for the
mishap and who has since voluntarily resigned, and on the agents'
commander. The third committee member, Rafi Peled, recommended the
dismissal of all three men.
The Committee has completed its work in thundering disagreement. The
internal discussions were characterized by repeated confrontations between
Tolkowsky and Peled. Ciechanover and Tolkowsky suspected Peled of being an
agent of a large group of senior security officials, past and present, who
had decided -- each for his own reasons -- to dispose of Yatom. Peled
suspected that the other two were incapable of making tough decisions, and
that they were converting the internationally revered Mossad into a
They smelled a putsch. Peled smelled kitsch. No great love was lost there.
The Committee members examined similar decisions made in the past by prime
ministers, reaching the conclusion that the discussions held by Netanyahu
in advance of deciding to assassinate Masha'al were more thorough and
extensive than in the past. They were convinced that the entire
intelligence community supported the action, though not necessarily its
timing or location. They were convinced that Jordan was a legitimate
target. In their opinion, it is inconceivable that a Hamas headquarters
should operate in Jordan, and that Israel cannot attack it.
According to the Committee's members, there is nothing to prevent the
Mossad from operating in Jordan in the future either.
Netanyahu selected Ciechanover to chair the due to, among other things,
his well- known inclination toward leniency and consideration for
individuals. Netanyahu was thinking of himself. Now that he has emerged
certifiably clean, the report presents Netanyahu with a dilemma: What
should be done with Danny Yatom?
According to the majority's perspective, if Netanyahu wants to dismiss
Yatom, the report provides sufficient material to do so. At the same time,
the Committee was not prepared to do the job for him. The Mossad, which
has been replete with intrigue since the Masha'al affair, will continue to
function with internal uncertainty, in anticipation of Netanyahu's
The report contains dozens of recommendations for structural changes.
Among them, it recommends appointing a major-general as intelligence
advisor to the Prime Minister. This proposal is a modest alternative to
the recommendations of earlier committees which called for the
establishment of a national security council -- an idea sabotaged by the
defense establishment. If this recommendation is implemented, it will
dramatically reduce the influence of both the head of IDF intelligence and
the Prime Minister's military secretary, neither of whom will be pleased.
Ze'ev Livneh, Netanyahu's previous military secretary, gave testimony
before the Committee. Livneh said, among other things, that his job kept
him occupied for barely two days a week. This "hidden unemployment" at the
Prime Minister's Office will be solved if a major-general now joins the
staff in an advisory capacity -- the Military Secretary can fight with him
for the remaining five days.
From owner-israel-mideast@PANKOW.INTER.NET.IL Tue Feb 17 12:45:20 1998
Subject: Ciechanover's Heart - "Yediot", Feb 15, 1998
Information Division, Israel Foreign Ministry - Jerusalem
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