Agence France-Press; November 29, 2010
JERUSALEM — Israel expressed satisfaction on Monday after the mass release of US diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks, saying it proved the Jewish state’s position on Iran was consistent — in public and in private.
The trove of documents released via the whistleblower website late on Sunday expose remarks made behind closed doors touching on everything from the Gaza blockade to Israeli views on the Hamas-Fatah divide, to US attempts to collect information on Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
“We come out looking very good,” a senior government official told AFP on condition of anonymity, adding his assessment was only preliminary and came before the full set of leaked documents were released.
The cables “demonstrate that Israel doesn’t speak a double language and that we say in private what we say in public” about the threat of Iran’s nuclear program, he added.
The documents posted online by WikiLeaks and a select group of international media outlets show widespread concern about Iran’s nuclear program and reveal Saudi Arabia “repeatedly” urged a US military strike on the country.
“They confirm that the whole Middle East is terrified by the prospect of a nuclear Iran,” the Israeli official added. “The Arab countries are pushing the United States towards military action more forcefully than Israel.”
The cables also show that Israel discussed its planned war on Gaza with the Palestinian leadership and Egypt ahead of time, offering to hand them control there if Hamas was overthrown.
The attempt to coordinate its offensive against Gaza’s Islamist rulers was revealed by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in talks with a congressional delegation in May 2009.
“He explained that the GOI (government of Israel) had consulted with Egypt and Fatah prior to Operation Cast Lead, asking if they were willing to assume control of Gaza once Israel defeated Hamas,” he said, referring to the Fatah party of Palestinian president [and Zionist front-man] Mahmud Abbas.
“Not surprisingly, Barak said, the GOI received negative answers from both,” it said.
Israel launched “Operation Cast Lead” on December 27, 2008 with the stated aim of halting rocket attacks from Gaza. During the 22-day war, some 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed as well as 13 Israelis, 10 of them soldiers.
A number of the cables further reveal Israel’s preoccupation with the rivalry between Fatah and Hamas, whose bitter relationship came to a head in June 2007 when the Islamists drove their secular rivals from Gaza and seized control there.
In one document from April 2007, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was opposition leader at the time, describes Abbas as a “nice man who means well” and urges Washington to focus on toppling Hamas through an “economic squeeze” saying it would be “easier to weaken Hamas than to strengthen Abbas.”
Two months later, Hamas forcibly ousted forces loyal to Abbas from the Gaza Strip, and Israel dramatically tightened its economic blockade on the coastal enclave.
[For more on this latter point in particular, see ‘Why Hamas took Gaza (Dayton, Dahlan and the plot against the resistance), Pt. 1′ here: http://800pg.co.cc/geeklog//article.php?story=2010111219565328]
The above article can be found here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/8167569/Wikileaks-Israel-satisfied-with-portrayal-of-Iran-position.html
‘WikiLeaks fiasco doesn’t embarrass Israel one bit’
Haaretz (Israel); November 29, 2010
The “Israeli portion” of the US government dispatches that were revealed yesterday by the WikiLeaks website revealed almost no new details regarding the exchange of messages between Jerusalem and Washington.
The secret documents sent by the US Embassy in Tel Aviv show that the heads of the Israeli intelligence apparatus and the defense establishment refer to the same talking points when briefing American bureaucrats and congressional delegations as they do when speaking to journalists and Knesset members.
There is no significant discrepancy among the statements made by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Mossad director Meir Dagan and former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin in speeches, before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, in background talks with media commentators and the diplomatic conversations the held.
Thus Israel has no reason to be embarrassed by the leak, because there are no large gaps between what it said domestically and what it said for public consumption.
Dagan, Yadlin, and Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad are portrayed in the US diplomatic cables as being at the vanguard of Israel’s public relations efforts, as trying to convince the Americans that Iran is dangerous and that it does not behoove Washington to supply weapons to Arab states.
US officials are not convinced by these arguments, and as a result they repeat their oft-stated stance.
There are no revelations that proved embarrassing, such as American acquiescence to settlement expansion, which would be antithetical to Washington’s official position, or an Israeli statement of support for American dialogue with Hamas.
Kept out of inner chambers
WikiLeaks did not succeed in penetrating the most sensitive channels of US-Israel relations.
Even after yesterday’s revelations, we still do not know what was really said in the meetings between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama, or between former prime ministers Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon during their talks with former US President George W. Bush, or between Dagan and his counterparts at US intelligence agencies.
Either all concerned read from their talking points during these meetings, or the US-Israel relationship is really handled through avenues that have yet to be revealed.
The low level of classification and the lack of importance that is to be attached to these documents find expression in a conversation between Dagan and a White House aide, as cited in a cable dated July 26, 2007.
Seven weeks before the Israel Air Force reportedly destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor, the American guest broaches the subject of Damascus’ claims that Israel is on the verge of attacking Syria. Dagan lies to him.
“Despite the fact that Israel has no intention of attacking, said Dagan, the Syrians are likely to retaliate over even the smallest incident, which could lead to quick escalation,” the cable read.
The above article can be found here: http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/wikileaks-fiasco-doesn-t-embarrass-israel-one-bit-1.327520
‘WikiLeaks revelations serve Israel, says Turkish minister’
Agence France-Press; December 2, 2010
A senior Turkish minister said on Thursday Israel seemed to be “benefiting” from the impact of US cables disclosed so far by the WikiLeaks website as he questioned whose interests the leaks served.
“One should analyze why this happened, who did it and why, who is benefiting and who is being harmed,” Interior Minister Besir Atalay said in televised comments on the mass leak.
“It seems to us that the country which… is not mentioned much, especially in the Middle East, or which this development seems to favor is Israel… This is how we see it in a way when we look in the context of who is benefiting and who is being harmed,” he said.
The foreign ministry has set up a team to analyze the scandal, he added.
A senior member of the ruling Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) also pointed at Israel on Wednesday.
“One should look at which country is content (with the leaks). Israel is extremely content,” AKP deputy chairman Huseyin Celik said, according to Anatolia news agency.
Turkey’s ties with Israel, once its closest regional ally, plunged into a deep crisis on May 31 when Israeli forces killed nine Turks on a Gaza-bound aid ship.
Relations had been already strained over Israel’s devastating war on Gaza last year, amid Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s frequent outbursts against the Jewish state and his defense of radical Palestinian group Hamas.
Israeli officials have said they are satisfied with the leaks, arguing the cables proved Israel’s position on Iran was consistent and showed “the whole Middle East” worried about Tehran’s nuclear program.
The documents showed widespread concern over Iran and revealed that Saudi Arabia “repeatedly” urged a US military strike on the country.
In contrast, the leaks revealed US and Israeli unease over Turkey’s close contacts with Iran and Erdogan’s criticism of Israel.
Erdogan, a former Islamist, “hates Israel” on religious grounds, a cable by the US embassy in Ankara said, including also the Israeli ambassador’s description of Erdogan as “a fundamentalist.”
Another dispatch said Washington was “wondering if it could any longer count on Turkey to help contain Iran’s profound challenge to regional peace.”
The above article can be found here: http://www.hindustantimes.com/WikiLeaks-revelations-serving-Israel-Turkish-minister/Article1-633569.aspx
‘WikiLeaks aims to boost Israel image’
Press TV (Iran); November 30, 2010
Iran‘s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said some quarters within the US government are behind the release of files posted on the Internet by WikiLeaks.
Ahmadinejad, who made the remarks at a press conference in Tehran, described the files claiming some Arab officials had pushed for a US attack on Iran as worthless.
He went on to say that the documents will not affect brotherly relations between Iran and regional countries.
The following is the transcript of Press TV’s interview with Mark Glenn, author and political commentator from the Crescent and Cross Solidarity Movement of Coeur d’Alene, about the issue:
Press TV: The whole US military campaign after 9/11 which has affected the whole world presumably is based on US efforts to dismantle a shadow enemy called Al-Qaeda. Isn’t it surprising to you that WikiLeaks has not released anything significant about this issue?
Glenn: Absolutely, and not only al-Qaeda but if Assange was the truth seeker and the truth teller that he tries to make himself out to be with these releases, he would release all sorts of much more damaging information than simply some of these diplomatic cables or the video that were surfaced last summer. For example, the spy network that existed in the United States up to and including September 11, the spy network that was run by Israel. There’s all kinds of just open source information dealing with the hundreds of Israeli spies that were arrested [in the US] on and after 9/11 and in some circumstances as incriminating as being in a position to witness the destruction of the twin towers.
So there are all sorts of information that, if Assange really wanted to embarrass the US government, he could release, including Israel‘s attacks on US Liberty in 1967 that resulted in 34 American servicemen being killed. So I agree that this is an inside operation. However, I would disagree slightly with the comments that your president made, namely, that this was a US operation, because as the comment that was made before I was brought on says, if Julian Assange truly was a threat to the US government he would be taken out immediately. The fact that he’s allowed to continue doing what he’s doing means that he’s serving some purpose here.
I think that, in addition to the fact that this is meant to undermine solidarity in the Middle East between Iran and her neighbors, this is Israel’s attempt at blackmailing the US government and in particular there was information dealing with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the fact that she was supposedly running her own little spy network where her diplomatic community was ordered to steal credit card numbers of foreign leaders and diplomats, to try to get their password even to try to get some DNA materials from some of these foreign diplomats and leaders.
So I believe that this is an inside operation that is aimed not only at improving Israel’s image in the world at a time when she really looks quite bad, but also as a means of blackmailing the United States government into going to war against Iran.
Press TV: The history of events in Iraq and Afghanistan shows that one particular form of terrorist attack, in the form of car bombs, came to be known only after the US occupation of those countries. Some experts strongly believe that these attacks are affiliated to or perhaps sponsored by the US intelligence agencies. Has there been any revelation by WikiLeaks about this type of terrorist attacks?
Glenn: That’s the perfect example right there. Obviously, I’ve not been privy to 250,000 pages that were stolen from the United States government, but I have not run into anything like that as of yet. However, we have plenty of documented information over the years involving not just Americans but also Israeli and even British intelligence units who were involved in car bombings and meant to make it look like it was Muslims who were responsible. So that is a perfect point that you are making sir, which is that we know that CIA and Mossad and the British MI6 are up to their eyeballs in terrorist attacks in places such as against Iraq’s Christian community and terrorist attacks taking place in Pakistan.
We know that these intelligence services are behind these. Why isn’t Julian Assange releasing that information? Why only information that makes Israel look better at a time when she’s suffering a serious public relations problem? Let’s face it — if Assange really wanted to bring the United States government down, there are plenty of more embarrassing and incriminating information besides what he just released.
The above article can be found here: http://edition.presstv.ir/detail/153333.html
‘Whistle blows hot air’
Al-Ahram Weekly (Egypt); December 2, 2010
Last Sunday, WikiLeaks, the whistleblower website, began publishing 251,287 leaked United States embassy cables. Among other things, the cables thus far released revealed that Arab leaders — King Abdullah of Jordan, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and King Hamad of Bahrain– were privately pressing the US to carry out an air strike on Iran. The documents released included references to US diplomats using embarrassing descriptions of world leaders, and voicing growing concerns over Pakistan’s instability and China’s assessment of the situation in the two Koreas.
The question, however, remains as to the true revelatory nature of these cables. After all, it is no surprise that Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other Arab states are suspicious of and averse to a militarily expanding Iran as can be surmised from recent arms deals in the oil rich Gulf region. Iran, certainly, will discover nothing new in these revelations — even those highlighting Arab pressure on the US to attack.
The greater part of the leaked cables pertains to Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Israel. Bearing in mind the close relationship between the US and Israel, it is surprising that Israel was not the subject of more revealing material. In fact, the Israelis emerged from Sunday relatively untouched. Binyamin Netanyahu’s comments, few days before the release of the cables, asserted that Israel would not be the “center of international attention”, adding that Jerusalem had not been informed by Washington of any “specific sensitive materials to be disclosed.”
Those cables which did refer to Israel, originating from Tel Aviv, Moscow and Cairo among others, alluded to Russian camaraderie with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, comments made by Amos Gilad, a longstanding Israeli envoy in Cairo, regarding President Hosni Mubarak’s tactics and age and Israeli diplomatic assertions that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a “fundamentalist” driven by his religious hatred of Israel.
As Aluf Benn of the Israeli daily Haaretz asserts (see above): “There is no significant discrepancy among the statements made by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Mossad Director Meir Dagan and former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin in speeches, before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, in background talks with media commentators and the diplomatic conversations they held.”
Mossad chief Meir Dagan is quoted in 2005 making rather mundane predictions about the doomed nature of the EU’s dialogue with Iran, the changing tide of the US-led war against Iraqi insurgents and the likely impact of jihadis returning home from the Iraq conflict, likening them to the “men who fought in Afghanistan during the 80s and 90s.”
As Haaretz stressed, there are no embarrassing revelations so far regarding Israel. On the other hand, one can imagine the huge political fallout had the diplomatic cables presented evidence regarding the assassination of Lebanon premier Rafik Al-Hariri, details concerning the 2006 July war in Lebanon or insight into Israeli activity during the second Palestinian Intifada. Suffice to say, the possibilities are endless and excessive rumination is pointless. What is certain, however, is that the dispatches, in the words of Benn “did not succeed in penetrating the most sensitive channels of US-Israel relations.”
Israel though isn’t the only regional player to have dodged a WikiLeaks bullet. Gulf States, close bedfellows of the US, escaped relatively unscathed — barring the rather colorful remark made by Saudi King Abdullah, likening Iran to a serpent. The Saudi kingdom, however, wasn’t the only political actor to be caught out making less than flattering statements about the Islamic Republic or its firebrand president who earned the unflattering comparison to Adolf Hitler.
Egypt and the Palestinian Authority (PA) received minimal fire with the implication that Israel had discussed with them the December 2008 invasion of Gaza. The diplomatic cable, a June 2009 telegram by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, indicates that Israel attempted to coordinate “Operation Cast Lead” with Egypt and the PA — nothing truly eye-opening about that.
Considering the impact of the 90,000 secret US records which highlighted US military incidents in the Afghan war and the 400,000 similar documents on Iraq, the most recent release of confidential and classified US documents seems so far un-insightful. The new leaks lack the frightening and vivid pointedness of the numerous malicious and unlawful acts perpetrated by the US, Iraqi top officials and Iran, which was accused of aiding Al-Qaeda forces within Iraq.
Sunday’s batch of documents, when put into context, appears all too sensational but with very little consequence. At the end of the day, what bearing does Gaddafi’s relation with a voluptuous Ukrainian nurse have on world politics? Indeed, the absence rather than the presence of politically pertinent documents is the more intriguing aspect of this week’s leaks.
The above article can be found here: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2010/1025/in3.htm
‘WikiLeaks and Israel: Quiet relief, louder vindication, for now’
Los Angeles Times (Blog); November 29, 2010
The morning after the first disclosures of WikiLeaks’ trove of diplomatic cables, buzz in Israel was somewhere between relief and vindication, and officials were being thankful by keeping quiet. Relations between Israel and the US are based on a tight weave of shared interests, not local incidents, said deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon.
Gradually, more official voices were heard. The revelations show what some of us knew, said President Shimon Peres — that the Arab countries know they have an enemy, “and it’s not Israel.“
A headline in Haaretz was more direct: “Everybody hates Iran.“
If WikiLeaks didn’t exist, Israel would have had to invent it, wrote Sever Plocker, noting the big leak backed Israel’s foreign and defense policy and revealed “the shame” that many agree with Israel but “won’t admit it openly.“
“Sorry we were right,” wrote columnist Dan Margalit.
Israel wasn’t embarrassed “one bit” by the fiasco, writes Aluf Benn.
OK, so the US Embassy in Cairo said that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said he found Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “elegant and charming” but felt Netanyahu never kept his promises. And defense official Amos Gilad thinks Mubarak lives in the past more than the present. Worse things have been said in public.
It’s a tempest in a teapot for Israel, for now, according to finance minister Yuval Steinitz.
In a radio interview Monday, former national security adviser Giora Eiland said Israel can be satisfied that so far no security secrets, operational plans or intelligence capabilities were revealed.
The full text of the above article can be found here: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2010/11/israel-wikileaks-the-israeli-angle.html