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Former security chief: Blame the Israeli government, not Palestinians, for the crisis

Then-Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin, left, with Chief of Staff Dan Halutz in 2006
Then-Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin, left, with Chief of Staff Dan Halutz in 2006
ARIEL JEROZOLIMSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Yuval Diskin, the chief of Israel's internal security agency the Shin Bet from 2005 to 2011, has posted a withering criticism of the Israeli government and its handling of the recent violence on his public Facebook page. He squarely blames Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government for the recent crisis, which began with the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli students in the West Bank and has spiraled into much wider violence, including the murder of a 16-year-old Palestinian by Israeli extremists.

Diskin, who has frequently criticized Israel's occupation of the West Bank and its role in the Palestinian conflict since retiring, writes that Israel's treatment of Palestinians is primarily responsible for the worsening violence. Here is the core of Diskin's argument, translated from Hebrew by the Jewish Daily Forward's J.J. Goldberg. (Unsurprisingly, he lavishes praise on the Shin Bet, but the rest is worth reading.) You can read Goldberg's full translation of Diskin's post here.

Dear friends: Take a few moments to read the following words and share them with others. I see the severe and rapid deterioration of the security situation in the territories, Jerusalem and the Triangle and I'm not surprised. Don't be confused for a moment. This is the result of the policy conducted by the current government, whose essence is: Let's frighten the public over everything that's happening around us in the Middle East, let's prove that there's no Palestinian partner, let's build more and more settlements and create a reality that can't be changed, let's continue not dealing with the severe problems of the Arab sector in Israel, let's continue not solving the severe social gaps in Israeli society.

This illusion worked wonderfully as long as the security establishment was able to provide impressive calm on the security front over the last few years as a result of the high-quality, dedicated work of the people of the Shin Bet, the IDF and the Israel Police as well as the Palestinians whose significant contribution to the relative calm in the West Bank should not be taken lightly.

However, the rapid deterioration we're experiencing in the security situation did not come because of the vile murder of Naftali, Eyal and Gil-Ad, may their memories be blessed.

The deterioration is first and foremost a result of the illusion that the government's inaction on every front can actually freeze the situation in place, the illusion that "price tag" is simply a few slogans on the wall and not pure racism, the illusion that everything can be solved with a little more force, the illusion that the Palestinians will accept everything that's done in the West Bank and won't respond despite the rage and frustration and the worsening economic situation, the illusion that the international community won't impose sanctions on us, that the Arab citizens of Israel won't take to the streets at the end of the day because of the lack of care for their problems, and that the Israeli public will continue submissively to accept the government's helplessness in dealing with the social gaps that its policies have created and are worsening, while corruption continues to poison everything good, and so on and so on.

Diskin was featured in the award-winning 2012 documentary "The Gatekeepers," which interviewed all the living former heads of the Shin Bet. While Israeli security chiefs are not exactly left-wing peaceniks, they and many members of the country's security establishment have long warned that the occupation is unsustainable and wrong, is a threat to Israel itself, and have placed the blame on Israeli political failures.

Of course, it's not impossible that Diskin may be playing at politics himself here. Tel Aviv-based journalist Gregg Carlstrom tweeted, in linking to the post, "Diskin is definitely running for office." Still, the fact that even the veterans of the Israeli security establishment see Israel's treatment of Palestinians as a primary driver of the crisis, and as something that has to change or will lead to imminent disaster, should count for something.

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