JERUSALEM - Israel's former security chief Yuval Diskin on Saturday accused top ministers of misleading the public about the chances any pre-emptive military action against Iran's nuclear facilities succeeding.
Diskin singled out Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak for criticism over their increasingly bellicose comments in the standoff with Iran over its nuclear programme.
"My major problem is that I have no faith in the current leadership, which must lead us in an event on the scale of war with Iran or a regional war," Diskin said in comments carried by army radio and the Haaretz newspaper.
"I don't believe in either the prime minister or the defence minister. I don't believe in a leadership that makes decisions based on messianic feelings," he said.
"Believe me, I have observed them from up close ... They are not people who I, on a personal level, trust to lead Israel to an event on that scale and carry it off. These are not people who I would want to have holding the wheel in such an event.
"They are misleading the public on the Iran issue. They tell the public that if Israel acts, Iran won't have a nuclear bomb. This is misleading. Actually, many experts say that an Israeli attack would accelerate the Iranian nuclear race."
Diskin, who stepped down as head of Israel's Shin Bet domestic security service last year after six years in the post, was addressing a public meeting in Kfar Saba in the Tel Aviv suburbs.
In March, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan also spoke out publicly against a military option on Iran. He told US network CBS an Israeli attack would have "devastating" consequences for Israel and would, in any case, be unlikely to put an end to the Iranian nuclear programme.
On relations between Israeli Jews and other groups, Diskin said: "Over the past 10-15 years, Israel has become more and more racist. All of the studies point to this. This is racism toward Arabs and toward foreigners, and we are also becoming a more belligerent society."
Diskin also said he believed another political assassination, like that of then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 by a Jewish extremist, could occur in the future.
"Today there are extremist Jews, not just in the territories but also inside the Green Line -- dozens of them -- who, in a situation in which settlements are evacuated, would be willing to take up arms against their Jewish brothers," he said.