Israel ex-security chief backs Netanyahu rival ahead of general election
JERUSALEM - A former head of Israel's internal security agency has backed prime ministerial hopeful Isaac Herzog ahead of Tuesday's general election, criticising incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu for his record in security.
"Why is this the moment to give Herzog a chance? Mainly because Netanyahu has failed in almost every area and because Herzog is the better alternative," Youval Diskin, who headed the Shin Bet agency from 2005 to 2011, wrote on Facebook.
Netanyahu has campaigned for the general election on a security mandate, casting himself as the only person capable of leading Israel against the threat of Iran and regional jihadist groups.
But Diskin criticised the premier on his safety record as well as his approach to peace talks with the Palestinians, which the former security chief said were "conducted with astonishing ineffectiveness".
He said he was against the prisoner swap in 2011 that saw Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit released in return for hundreds of Palestinian inmates.
"Netanyahu freed dozens of terrorists, several of them dangerous," he wrote.
Diskin also criticised the most recent Israeli military campaign in Gaza last year, which he said "had achieved no decisive result" against Hamas militants.
The Zionist Union, a coalition of Herzog's Labour party and the centrist HaTnuah led by former chief negotiator Tzipi Livni, has made a show of the support it has received from Israel's security sector, traditionally a key voter influence.
Former military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin has joined the Zionist Union list and is tipped to become defence minister if Herzog is the next prime minister.
As well as Diskin, the former head of the Mossad spy service Meir Dagan has also publicly criticised Netanyahu's security record.