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Leaks show how the entire Middle East fears a nuclear Iran, prime minister says.
November 29, 2010 (KATAKAMI / HAARETZ) — A raft of controversial diplomatic secrets published by the WikiLeaks group has not damaged Israel and in fact strengthened its position, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday.
A collection of over 250,000 classified U.S. dispatches released by WikiLeaks caused global diplomatic turmoil and discomfort for the United States, which had warned allies ahead of publication to prepare from embarrassment.Revelations that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton questioned the mental health of Argentina’s president and that America asked its diplomats to snoop on the United Nations may prove awkward for Washington.
But for Israel, the outcome is positive, Netanyahu said.
“Israel has not been damaged at all by the WikiLeaks publications,” the prime minster told a group of editors in Tel Aviv. “The documents show many sources backing Israel’s assessments, particularly of Iran.”
One result of the Wikileaks cables was to expose Arab fears of growing Iranian power, and it emerged that Saudi Arabia had asked the U.S. to launch a military strike to prevent the Iranians from gaining a nuclear bomb.
Israel has for years warned of the danger from the Iranian nuclear program – which Iran claims is for peaceful purposes – to the entire region. These warnings had been vindicated, Netanyahu said.
“Our region has been hostage to a narrative that is the result of 60 years of propaganda, which paints Israel as the greatest threat,” Netanyahu said.
“In reality leaders understand that that view is bankrupt. For the first time in history there is agreement that Iran is the threat,” he said.
“If leaders start saying openly what they have long been saying behind closed doors, we can make a real breakthrough on the road to peace.”
A 2009 American government cable released Sunday by WikiLeaks quotes Defense Minister Ehud Barak as telling visiting American officials that a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities was viable until the end of 2010, but after that “any military solution would result in unacceptable collateral damage”.
Leaked documents also show America in agreement with Israel’s assessment of Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan as an unreliable “fundamentalist” whose policies are governed by an irrational hatred of Israel.
Netanyahu added that Israel had been prepared for the eventuality of leaks and had worked in advance to limit any damage.
“Every Israeli leader has known for years that that dispatches are likely to leak out, so we adapted ourselves to the reality of leaks, he said. “That has a bearing on who I invite to meetings. No classified Israeli material was exposed by WikiLeaks.”
But the latest exposes would still influence Israeli policy, Netanyahu said.
“The result of the release of the documents will be that in the future we will see fewer revelations and less exposure, particularly on complex issues,” he said. (*)