The Gatekeepers: Israeli Shin Bet chiefs on film

Israeli filmmaker Dror Moreh has pulled off a journalistic coup in persuading six former Israeli spy chiefs to be part of his documentary

In decades of tortuous efforts to make peace between Israelis and Palestinians, ideas and phrases come and go. But one still embodies what many still see as the main goal - "a two-state solution."

And now support has come from an unexpected group - Israeli ex-spy chiefs.

"All of the living heads of Shin Bet felt it was about time that people in Israel and the rest of the world heard their voice," explained Israeli filmmaker Dror Moreh.

He has pulled off a journalistic coup in persuading six men, who headed Israel's internal security agency from 1980-2011, to be part of his remarkable Academy Award-nominated documentary, The Gatekeepers, now showing in the UK.

"All of them are for a two-state solution," he told me on BBC World TV's Impact programme.

'End the occupation'

The film centres around six very personal outspoken accounts from men who oversaw Israeli operations, from targeted assassinations of Palestinian leaders, to surveillance and torture.

Their emotions range from professional pride to expressions of unease over the exercise of their formidable power.

"These men had to make highly difficult security decisions, on the spot, leaving politics aside," commented Paul Charney, chairman of the Zionist Federation of the UK, who joined our discussion.

"Now they can discuss, for the first time, their own moral fibre, their own politics, for the rest of the world."

"What comes through powerfully in the film is their sense that the best they can do is create some political space for others, the political elite, to step in to do what must be done," remarked Daniel Levy of the European Council of Foreign Policy, who's had extensive experience in Israeli-Palestinian peace-making.

That means "talk to the Palestinians, end the occupation."

Some have described The Gatekeepers as a challenge to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who now heads a coalition government which includes key members publicly and passionately opposed to a two-state solution.

"At the end of the day, the Prime Minister of Israel said exactly four years ago to the day that he is for a two-state solution," emphasised Dror Moreh.

"But what we have seen on the ground has gone completely the opposite way with settlement building that is larger and deeper."

"I think this is why they all came to this film," he reflected. "It's really the last opportunity to reach a two-state solution."

Lyse Doucet Article written by Lyse Doucet Lyse Doucet Chief international correspondent

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