Israeli officials lashed out at Egypt over its attitude toward Israel's nuclear program during talks with American officials last year, according to a U.S. Embassy cable published by the website WikiLeaks on Sunday as part of the vast cache of State Department documents it released.
The cable, from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, quoted Uzi Arad, chairman of Israel's National Security Council, as accusing Egypt's Foreign Ministry of harming relations with Jerusalem.
On December 1, 2009, Ellen Tauscher, the U.S. under secretary for arms control and international security affairs, arrived in Israel for meetings with government officials. The central topic of discussion was preparations for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference that took place six months later in New York.
In the lead-up to the summit, Egypt applied heavy pressure on the U.S. to support a call for the supervision of Israel's nuclear facilities and the convening of an international summit on denuclearizing the Middle East.
Tauscher met with a group of high-ranking Israeli officials involved with the nuclear issue and asked that Israel show flexibility on its nuclear facilities ahead of the conference. But she pledged that her government would consult with Israel on the matter and not take any action that might undermine its security.
Six months later, however, Washington succumbed to Egyptian pressure: Despite Israel's pleas, it allowed the conference to pass a resolution condemning Israel for not opening its nuclear facilities to inspection.
According to the document, Arad described Egypt's Foreign Ministry as a "'nagging problem' in the relationship, particularly regarding the proposal for a nuclear-free Middle East, and noted that Israel wanted to see a 'reversal of trends' from Egypt regarding Iran's nuclear program."
The cable also said Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's political security department, had described Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as lacking confidence in his foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, and recommended that Washington deal directly with the president. Tauscher concurred, and said she would try to circumvent Egypt's Foreign Ministry in her dealings with the Mubarak government.
The documents shed light on Israeli political squabbling as well. On April 18, 2007, the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv sent a cable summarizing a meeting between Benjamin Netanyahu, then opposition leader, and visiting U.S. congressmen in which Netanyahu lambasted then-prime minister Ehud Olmert for his handling of the Second Lebanon War.
The document paraphrased Netanyahu as saying that "If Olmert had mobilized the reserves in ten days, seized ground, destroyed Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, and then withdrawn, he would be a hero today." Since he did not, Netanyahu predicted, Olmert would not remain in power for long.
Netanyahu described Olmert as being under tremendous political pressure between investigations into his alleged criminal wrongdoing and the interim conclusions of the Winograd Commission investigating the war.
"Olmert could be pushed out as a result of a rebellion within the Kadima Party," the cable said, paraphrasing Netanyahu. "Kadima members are realizing they cannot allow Olmert to stay in power, but Kadima itself might collapse since it was a 'fake party.'"
Some of the documents highlighted Israel's increasingly tense relations with Turkey. James F. Jeffrey, then U.S. ambassador to Ankara, wrote in an April 26, 2009 cable of his meeting with Gabby Levy, then Israel's ambassador to Turkey. At the meeting, held a year before Israel's raid on a Turkish-sponsored flotilla to Gaza, Levy blamed Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the deterioration in once-friendly relations.
The Israeli envoy, the cable said, "noted that the prime minister's party had not gained a single point in the polls from his bashing of Israel. Instead, Levy attributed Erdogan's harshness to deep-seated emotion: 'He's a fundamentalist. He hates us religiously' and his hatred is spreading."
Adding his own analysis, Jeffrey concluded, "Our discussions with contacts both inside and outside of the Turkish government on Turkey's deteriorating relations with Israel tend to confirm Levy's thesis that Erdogan simply hates Israel."
A May 16, 2009 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv discussed Israel's secret ties to the United Arab Emirates. Quoting Yaakov Hadas, the head of the Foreign Ministry's Middle East department, it said UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan "has developed good personal relations with Foreign Minister [Tzipi] Livni, but the Emiratis are 'not ready to do publicly what they say in private.'"
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