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Former Israeli Spymaster: We Need To Talk to Iran

In an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor, former Israeli spy chief Efraim Halevy said Israel and the US must engage in a dialogue with Iran to understand how their adversaries think, a position rarely heard from top Israeli officials. He faulted Republican candidate Mitt Romney for making US policy toward Iran an issue in the presidential election.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) joins Efraim Halevy (R) who succeeds outgoing Mossad chief Danny Yatom (L) in a toast in the prime minister's offices during the Mossad handover ceremony April 8. Yatom resigned as Mossad spy chief in February amid scandals over botched missions in Jordan and Switzerland. Halevy, was born in 1934 in Britain and immigrated to Israel during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war that followed the creation of the State of Israel. He served as a former deputy Mossad chief and is expecte

Efraim Halevy served as chief of the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad, under three Israeli prime ministers and led the secret negotiations with Jordan’s King Hussein that made way for Israel’s historic 1994 peace treaty with that country. Other assignments in a four-decade government career include serving as Mossad station chief in Washington in the 1970s under then-Israeli ambassador to the United States Yitzhak Rabin, for whom, as prime minister, Halevy served as Mossad chief until Rabin's 1995 assassination. Halevy also served as Israeli national security advisor and Israeli ambassador to the European Union in the late 1990s.

Born in Britain — Halevy moved to Israel in 1948 at the age of 14 — and wearing a trench coat with a newspaper tucked under his arm on a drizzly morning in Washington on Friday, Oct. 19, Halevy, 78, evoked George Smiley, the protagonist in the John Le Carre British spy novels, who is burdened by the knowledge of state secrets too sensitive and ugly to share. But it is Halevy’s fierce advocacy for dialogue with mortal enemies such as Iran and Hamas, combined with a biography laden with hard political experience, that makes him so iconoclastic, especially in the current Israeli political and national security landscape.

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