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'Greatest threat to Israel is potential of a civil war'

Greatest threat to Israel is potential of a civil war

Jerusalem: Israel was inching towards the possibility of a civil war, a former head of the country's spy agency Mossad has said warning that the "existential threat" to the Jewish state is growing internal division rather than external aggression.

"There is no outside existential threat to Israel, the only real existential threat is internal division," former Mossad Chief Tamir Pardo said at a press conference ahead of an event commemorating fallen Druze soldiers.

"If a divided society crosses a certain threshold, you can reach phenomena such as civil war, in extreme cases," he said adding that the distance between the present-day situation in Israel and a civil war is growing smaller.

"I'm afraid we're in that direction," Pardo said in response to a question from a reporter in his first public appearance after leaving office earlier this year.

Touching upon the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the former top spy said that "we will never be able to achieve normalisation with our Arab neighbours" without a diplomatic solution to the vexed problem.

The comments came amid repeated claims by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel's diplomatic relations with moderate Arab countries in the region were improving.

Responding to a comparison drawn by Israel's Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman between the nuclear accord with Iran reached by the six world powers (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) and the 1938 Munich Pact that allowed Nazi Germany to annex portions of Czechoslovakia, Pardo said it was like comparing "zucchinis and pears".

"What happened at the end of the 1930's is different from what is happening today. History does not repeat itself [in such a way that justifies] such an analogy," he said.

Asked about Lebanese Shi'ite group Hizbullah, he said that the Lebanese faction was never an existential threat to Israel, "but it can pester us and cause pain, and spur our internal divide - but there is no threat."

Pardo however said that he remained optimistic about Israel's future "for the sake of our children and grandchildren," adding that Israel has failed to create equal opportunities for all of its residents and citizens.

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