In an unprecedented move, 200 veterans of the Israeli security services accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday of being a “danger” to Israel.
The new group, called Commanders for Israel’s Security, warned that Netanyahu was doing irreparable harm to the country’s relationship with Washington, just two days before he is due to address the US Congress.
The Israeli prime minister is expected to use the speech to try to undermine negotiations currently taking place between major world powers and Iran. He has claimed  that any agreement reached at the talks’ conclusion, later this month, will leave Iran a “nuclear threshold state” hellbent on destroying Israel.
Half a dozen former generals spoke out at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Sunday, urging Netanyahu to cancel the speech before ties with the US deteriorate even further.
The White House is reported to be furious that Netanyahu arranged his appearance before Congress behind President Barack Obama’s back.
With an Israeli election less than three weeks away, Netanyahu has already faced attacks from centrist political rivals and parts of the Israeli media over his clashes with the White House on Iran.
But it is the first time he has faced a large-scale backlash from members of Israel’s security establishment – and the statement of the 200 is likely to be more damaging to Netanyahu’s popular image as a strong leader on security matters.
The group comprises retired officers and those serving in the reserves, all of whom held a rank equivalent to general. Many are household names.
Yaron Ezrahi, a politics professor at Hebrew University and expert on Israeli-US relations, said there was no precedent for what he termed a “rebellion” by so many former senior officials.
“This is a very powerful and distinguished group of former commanders, who are extremely worried about where Netanyahu is taking Israel right now,” he said.