AN ISRAELI VIEW
What we'll learn from the next round of Wikileaks
by Yossi Alpher
Wikileaks leak of December 2011: secret cable from DCM, US Embassy Tel Aviv, to deputy under secretary of state for Middle East affairs, State Department, Washington. December 28, 2010: I exploited the Christmas/New Years lull here at the embassy, where just a few of us have not left on vacation, to make the rounds of PM Netanyahu's unofficial but highly influential "Cabinet of Seven": Netanyahu, Barak, Meridor, Yaalon, Yishai (needed translator), Begin and Lieberman. A clear majority--the last four on the list--opposes any significant concessions to the Palestinians even if we do get final status talks going. PM himself is, as usual, not credible in his seeming advocacy of peace and readiness for concessions. Meridor will go half way. Barak continues to play role of "only responsible adult" in the leadership but refuses to draw obvious conclusion about this government. Have we really factored this clear and negative reality into our decision-making regarding our "reset" peace process policy?
Wikileaks leak of January 2012: secret cable from political counselor, US Embassy Tel Aviv, to Israel desk, State Department, Washington. December 15, 2010. Over past week made rounds of influential strategic think tanks at Tel Aviv University, Bar Ilan, Ben Gurion, Jerusalem, Haifa, Interdisciplinary Center, to hear scholars' views (many of them former senior diplomats and IDF officers) on peace process. Consensus regarding US efforts: "pathetic".
Wikileaks leak of February 2012: secret cable from US Consul General Jerusalem to Special Emissary George Mitchell and Secretary of State Clinton, Washington. December 22, 2010: Meeting with PLO Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat, Jericho. Saeb spoke on condition of absolute secrecy. Couldn't understand why we are so insistent on "flailing the dead horse" of direct negotiations when after 17 years we should realize they are leading nowhere. Discussed "for my ears only" Abu Mazen's political bind: he's weaker than ever, a lame-duck leader, opposed by Fateh hawks, Dahlan, even left-wing movements like People's Party that insist on full settlement freeze first. Not to mention Hamas. Abu Mazen has no room to maneuver. This, in addition to Abu Mazen's own ambiguity over final status as witnessed in his rejection of Olmert's proposals back in September 2008. Saeb concluded that UN recognition of Palestinian state is only hope to provide a partial achievement. Can't understand why Israelis and we don't appreciate the opportunity this maneuver presents to postpone refugee and holy basin issues in a way PLO can't afford to offer in direct negotiations.
Wikileaks leak of January 2012: secret cable from US ambassador in Jordan to Secretary of State, Washington. December 21, 2010: Another failed Mitchell visit, while PM Netanyahu continues to play us for fools. Hashemites once again nervous about an Israeli right-wing Jordan-is-Palestine plot. King flirting with Iran to show displeasure. We're playing with fire here.
Wikileaks leak of January 2012: secret cable from third secretary, US Embassy Tel Aviv, to Israel desk, State Department, Washington. December 15, 2010: summary of gossip from recent cocktails and picked up on street (writer is fluent Hebrew speaker): Israeli public is laughing at Obama administration's efforts to further Israeli-Palestinian accord. The Netanyahu spin we saw at Carmel mega-fire apparently works with Mitchell and Clinton, too.
Wikileaks leak of December 2011: secret cable from political secretary at US Embassy Tel Aviv to under secretary of state for political affairs, Washington. December 20, 2010: Spoke to several senior officers in IDF Intelligence. They can't understand why we are neglecting the Syria-Israel negotiating track in favor of an obviously failed Israeli-Palestinian process. Exploring Syria's readiness to distance itself from Iran and Hizballah in exchange for the Golan is the only possible means for striking a blow at Iran's aims in the Levant diplomatically, thereby avoiding eventual need to fall back on military means. Officers have repeatedly made this case to their government, to no avail. But, they ask, why are we dragging our tails and setting unobtainable conditions for engaging Syria on this? Wasn't Obama supposed to be different from Bush?
Wikileaks leak of February 2012: secret cable from DCM, US Embassy Tel Aviv, to deputy under secretary of state for Middle East affairs, State Department, Washington. December 16, 2010. Meeting with Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon at the Knesset. I only noticed as I was leaving and he wished me a Merry Christmas that he had sat me in a seat lower than his and that the meeting was videoed. . .-Published 20/12/2010 © bitterlemons.org
Yossi Alpher is coeditor of the bitterlemons family of internet publications. He is former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, Tel Aviv University.