Ex-Israeli military officials call on Netanyahu to cancel speech


JERUSALEM (JTA) — More than 180 Israeli former military and intelligence officials called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel his speech to the U.S. Congress.

An alliance calling itself Commanders for Israel’s Security made the announcement on Sunday, hours after Netanyahu left for Washington and two days before his controversial address. The alliance includes ex-officials from the Israel Defense Forces, the Mossad, the Shin Bet security service and the Israel Police.

“When the Israeli prime minister argues that his speech will stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, he is not only misleading Israel, he is strengthening Iran,” the group’s founder, Amnon Reshef, the former head of the IDF armored corps, told a news conference on Sunday.

“The way to prevent a nuclear Iran is by strengthening the alliance between the countries, between the U.S. and Israel, and between Israel and the international community. It’s already impossible to conceal the rift with the Americans, and it’s impossible to accept such a rift. We believe that this constitutes a clear and present danger to Israel’s security.”

The group, which says it is apolitical, was founded in October.

Members of the group reportedly say they agree with the prime minister’s assessment of Iran’s ability to obtain a nuclear weapon and that the reported deal with Iran is not a good one. However, they disagree with his publicly berating President Barack Obama in a speech that will voice opposition to the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers being backed by Obama.

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