Material concerning Israel will not be the focal point of a new exposé by the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday, as Israel and the United States tensely awaited the imminent release of American classified diplomatic cables expected to include secret communiques between the two countries.
"Israel is not the center of international attention," the premier said, adding that Jerusalem had not "been updated by the Americans about specific sensitive materials to be disclosed regarding Israel."
The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv last week informed the Foreign Ministry that WikiLeaks was planning to release hundreds of thousands of American diplomatic cables, some of which could deal with Israel-America relations.
The U.S. said it wanted to let the Israeli government know so it would not be surprised and would be prepared for publicity that may cause diplomatic embarrassment.
A senior Israeli official familiar with the contents of the message, who asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the matter, said that according to the Americans, the WikiLeaks material includes diplomatic cables sent to Washington from American embassies throughout the world. Sources in Washington said the documents would be coming out soon, perhaps even as soon as Sunday.
The United States has also contacted other allied states, warning them that the communiqués could affect them. The countries contacted reportedly include Afghanistan, Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.
The cables date from the past five years and include media reports, talks with politicians, government officials and journalists, as well as evaluations and various analyses by American diplomats regarding their host countries.
According to the senior Israeli official, the U.S. Embassy said that the documents were not highly classified, but the administration did not know the precise content of the cables.
"The Americans said they view the leak very seriously. They don't know when they will be released on the internet and what exactly they say, but they didn't want us to read about it in the newspapers," the official said.
On Saturday, the State Department released a letter from its top lawyer to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, warning that publication of the documents would be illegal and demanding he prevent it.
In the letter, State Department legal adviser Harold Koh said the publication of some 250,000 secret diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks would place at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals, endanger on-going military operations, and threaten on-going cooperation between countries.
Last month, WikiLeaks published some 400,000 classified military documents from American war operations in Iraq, a move the Pentagon branded as "shameful."
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