Netanyahu: Israel unharmed by WikiLeaks revelations

Leaks show neighbors agree with us on Iran, PM says; "more and more countries in world understand this is the fundamental threat.”

Netanyahu tilting head 311 GPO (photo credit: GPO)
Netanyahu tilting head 311 GPO
(photo credit: GPO)
Israel was not harmed by the substance of what was in documents made public by WikiLeaks Sunday, and indeed, the documents show that the country’s assessments on Iran were supported by a number of neighboring countries, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Monday in his first reaction to the trove of US diplomatic cables placed in the public domain.
Saying Iran was the greatest threat to regional and world peace, Netanyahu told a gathering of editors and senior journalists in Tel Aviv marking Kaf Tet B’November (November 29) that “more and more countries, governments and leaders in the Middle East and in the world understand that this is the fundamental threat.”
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In a reference to documents released quoting leaders of a number of Arab states – including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Jordan – exhorting the US to take military action against Iran, Netanyahu said there “is a gap between what is said by the leaders in back rooms, and what that say publicly in our region.”
For 60 years, the region, Netanyahu said, has been prisoner of a narrative that says Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are the biggest threat to regional peace and security.
“In reality,” he said, “the leaders understand that this [argument] is simply bankrupt.”
According to Netanyahu, the Iranian threat has led to an unprecedented compatibility of interests between Israel and the Arab world.
“I don’t think there has ever been an understanding like this in the Middle East before,” Netanyahu said. “Generally, in the past, there were disputes between us and the Arab leaders regarding the dangers. But this is the first time in modern history that there is not insignificant agreement both in Jerusalem and in countries in the region that the central thereat flows from Iran, its hegemonic plans and proliferation steps.”
Netanyahu said that if as a result of the WikLeaks Leaks the Arab leaders “will be afraid to say in private what they think, then that obviously won’t lead to a good result. But if something new happens, and as a result of these revelations there are leaders who have the courage to say publicly what they think in private, that will be a true breakthrough.”
Netanyahu said this could be a major step toward peace, because it would change the narrative that Israel is the danger to peace and security in the region, when everyone knows “what the real danger is.”
Regarding the diplomatic process with the Palestinians, Netanyahu did not provide any information about the status of the letter expected from the US administration spelling out American commitments to Israel if the latter declared an additional 90-day settlement construction moratorium. He said that Israel and the US were trying to ensure that once the negotiations did begin again, they would have a good chance of success and wouldn’t fail in “another 60 days.”
According to Netanyahu, any agreement would need to have three elements built in that were not in previous accords: ironclad security arrangements on the ground to ensure that territory left by Israel did not turn into a base for future attacks on the country; Palestinian recognition of the Jewish people’s right to a state in the region; and an important economic component that would “create interest in the average Palestinian that peace is important and serves him and his family.”
Netanyahu said it was important to remember that it was not only Israel and the US involved in the discussions, but “there is also a third party, and that third party – the Palestinians – has not shown the kind of flexibility and creativity in moving from fixed positions to something that would advance the issue.”
Netanyahu said the problem of “the absence of peace is not on the Israeli side, nor due to the construction of a few houses in Jerusalem. That is not the problem.”
The true problem, he said, was twofold – a procedural one, and a substantive one.
“The procedural problem is the [Palestinians’] refusal to negotiate without preconditions that seek to impose final settlement issues on the negotiations before they get started,” he said.
And the substantive problem, according to the prime minister, “is the question of whether there is a willingness amid the Palestinians to recognize Israel in any configuration, in any borders. That was and remains the core of the conflict.”