JERUSALEM (AP) - The newly retired head of Israel's fabled Mossad spy agency has turned his sights toward Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, repeatedly criticizing the Israeli leader's approach to Iran and the Palestinians.
After earning a reputation as a fearless operator against Israel's enemies, now Meir Dagan is showing public concern over how Israel's government deals with them.
Dagan's statements, rare for a man known for discretion and secrecy during a three-decade career in the intelligence service, have startled many Israelis.
In a speech at Tel Aviv University on Wednesday, Dagan issued a stern warning against attacking Iran, saying a strike would risk unleashing a region-wide war and only encourage Tehran to push forward with a nuclear program that is widely believed to be aimed at developing weapons. Iran denies that.
"The war won't be against Iran, but will be a regional war," he said, according to a transcript obtained by The Associated Press. "I recommend that the prime minister not decide to attack."
Dagan also lamented the dire state of peace efforts with the Palestinians, which have been frozen for months.
"There needs to be an Israeli peace initiative," he said. "If we don't offer things and don't take the initiative, we might be put in a corner. Given the choice between put in a corner or taking the initiative, initiative is better."
He suggested that Israel accept a nine-year-old peace initiative proposed by Saudi Arabia, offering peace with the Arab world in return for a full withdrawal from all territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war.