Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister, faces a deep split with Mossad, the country’s intelligence agency, over his strategy to defeat the Palestinian uprising.
According to Israeli officials and intelligence sources, the split could result in the departure of Ephraim Halevy, the Mossad chief, who has on several occasions openly challenged the Israeli leader.
According to The Times, the British-born Mossad boss has been named as a possible Ambassador to Washington, a post which became vacant earlier this month. Although he has told colleagues that he is not interested in this job, he is coming under pressure to take it and open the way for a new intelligence chief from within Sharon’s circle of confidants.
“Some people (in Government) are mentioning his name in connection to the post in Washington, because they want him out of Mossad,” an Israeli official told the British paper. “It has become very political.”
Mr Halevy, aged 67, has clashed with the Israeli leader on a number of occasions. First he opposed the decision taken in December to place Yasser Arafat under house arrest, arguing that it would only raise his popularity among Palestinians.
The most serious disagreement occurred a month ago after the Palestinian suicide bombing in Netanya that killed 28 people and triggered the current Israeli offensive in the West Bank. Sharon told the Cabinet that he wanted to exile Arafat.
But Halevy, who was supported by other security chiefs and military advisers, spoke out against the move, arguing that “Arafat abroad will be far more dangerous to us than in the territories”.
According to The Times, Sharon backed down but the two clashed again when the Israeli leader barred a European delegation from visiting Arafat, a decision the Mossad director insisted was counter-productive.
However, the Israeli Prime Minister's Office released an announcement denying The Times report. The announcement described this report as "baseless" and added that at this stage there are no plans to replace Halevi. (Albawaba.com)
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