Former Israel Security Agency chief Yuval Diskin's accusation Friday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak put their "personal, opportunistic interests" before the state's interests "is a distortion," Homefront Defense Minister Avi Dichter said on Sunday.
Dichter, who was the head of the ISA immediately before Diskin's term, was referring to Diskin's interview published in Yedioth Aharonoth on Friday, in which the former ISA chief called Netanyahu and Barak "wavering and weak," and accused them of "putting their own egos before the good of the state."
The interview drew a spate of criticism, with both Dichter and former National Security Council chief Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan slamming Diskin for his remarks.
During a meeting with political science students at The Open University, Dayan said, "Yuval Diskin's comments are irresponsible and do not reflect the words of a former ISA chief. Diskin's choice of timing, on the eve of the elections, to criticize the prime minister and defense minister is negligent and unprofessional. This is how someone who deals in politics sounds."
Dayan added that he "personally knows Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak. We worked together extensively on security issues. They are experienced, prudent and responsible, working for the well-being of the army and the state."
Dayan also emphasized Netanyahu's and Barak's achievements during their terms: "Leading the fight against Iran's nuclearization in a wise and responsible way, while recruiting an international coalition against Iran; sensible management of Operation Pillar of Defense; and providing security to Israeli citizens, including the protection of Israel's borders during, and in between, times of risk.
"If Diskin has been so concerned over Netanyahu's and Barak's leadership," Dayan asked, "why did he not resign from the ISA [when he was head of the agency]? It seems his judgment failed."
Dichter echoed Dayan's criticism.
"A description of Netanyahu and Barak as cowards motivated by their own personal and messianic interests does not reflect, in my mind, who these two people are, no matter who says it," Dichter said. "I am involved in every detail (of state security) from inside and out, and to take these matters and ascribe to them a personal interest is a distortion."
"I was very disappointed by [Diskin's] comments," Dichter added.
He suggested that of all the senior defense leaders, the head of the ISA had to be especially prudent. "When you talk to the media about personal matters, you need to ask where you draw the line." Dichter also hinted that Diskin's remarks could harm the trust between future prime ministers and heads of the ISA.
Dichter said that his ISA successor relied on an "inappropriate and flawed concoction" in his remarks and the medium in which he chose to publish it, Yedioth Aharonoth, was akin to "'birds of a feather flocking together.' The way and medium in which it was published is inappropriate, disrespectful and even alarming."