Barak, Ashkenazi warn of leaks’ impact on diplomacy

"I think diplomacy will look different after today," defense minister says; Military Intelligence studying published cables.

December 1, 2010 02:09
2 minute read.
IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi speaks publicly for the first time on Wednesday.

Ashkenazi 311. (photo credit: Channel 10)

Future diplomatic contacts around the world will likely be shallower than in the past following the publication of hundreds of thousands of United States cables by WikiLeaks, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi warned on Tuesday.

“This teaches us about a new world with risks, even though we still do not fully understand the impact it will have on the future,” Ashkenazi said during a tour of the IDF’s Tel Hashomer Induction Center, adding that Military Intelligence was studying the various cables.

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Ashkenazi said that the IDF needed to increase its information security apparatuses and to be more careful in the future to prevent similar leaks.

“We are not automatically immune to this kind of phenomenon,” he said.

Speaking on the sidelines of a tour of Israel Military Industries near Ramat Hasharon, Barak predicted that the world of diplomacy would change.

“I think that diplomacy will look different after today,” Barak said. “People, diplomats, in every corner of the world will be much more careful when they talk, and I assume not only with the Americans. This will make the diplomacy more shallow.”

Barak, who was featured prominently in some of the leaked cables, including remarks about Iran and the Palestinian Authority, said that he did not think Israel was damaged by the publication of the diplomatic cables.

He did, however, refer to the statements attributed to Arab leaders urging the US to attack Iran as being “interesting.”

“I don’t think it damaged Israel,” he said. “There isn’t a big difference, in my opinion, between what you read in WikiLeaks and what we’ve all heard in briefings, even if they were off the record.”

The two senior defense officials also weighed in on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision on Monday to appoint Tamir Pardo as the next chief of the Mossad in place of Meir Dagan, who will step down at the end of the year. Ashkenazi dismissed accusations that Pardo was involved in the so-called Galant Document affair since he had seen the document before it was leaked to the press. There had been reports that Barak was opposed to Pardo’s appointment.

“His part in the affair was marginal and was checked from every possible direction,” Ashkenazi said.

He also played down the fact that a number of senior defense officials, including himself and head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) Yuval Diskin, would be replaced in the coming months.

“Changes are part of the culture and everyone involved has the necessary experience,” he said.

Barak said that, “Tamir has rich operational experience and is a very talented and responsible man who will lead the Mossad to exceptional goals.”

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