WikiLeaks Fiasco Doesn't Embarrass Israel One Bit

There was no major discrepancy between messages delivered to Israeli press and those delivered to American diplomats.

Aluf Benn
Aluf Benn
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Aluf Benn
Aluf Benn

The "Israeli portion" of the U.S. 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 U.S. 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.

From left, Gabi Ashkenazi, Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak at a press conference, in 2010.Credit: Alon Ron

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 U.S. 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.

U.S. 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 U.S.-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 U.S. President Barack Obama, or between former prime ministers Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon during their talks with former U.S. President George W. Bush, or between Dagan and his counterparts at U.S. intelligence agencies.

Either all concerned read from their talking points during these meetings, or the U.S.-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.