Saturday, December 4, 2010

Israel consulted Egypt and Fatah prior to the Gaza War

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 001177 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/01/2019 
Classified By: DCM Luis G. Moreno, reasons 1.4 (b,d) 
1. (C) Summary:  Post hosted two CODELS during the week of 
May 25: one from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee led 
by Senator Casey, the other from the House Committee on 
Foreign Affairs led by Congressman Ackerman.  Both 
delegations met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who 
conveyed similar points on the Peace Process and Israel's 
concerns about Iran.  End summary. 
Peace Process 
2. (C) Barak began his meeting with the Casey delegation by 
apologizing for being late due to what he described as an 
"internal debate" at the Prime Minister's office regarding 
the development of a response to President Obama's upcoming 
speech in Cairo.  He noted there are "perceived gaps" between 
the USG and the GOI regarding the Peace Process, and 
explained the GOI's internal debate is focused primarily on 
how to ensure that the U.S. and Israel "trust each other." 
Barak expressed confidence that PM Netanyahu is sincere in 
wanting to "seize this opportunity and move forward" with the 
Palestinians, but alluded to members of the coalition who do 
not agree with this course of action. 
3. (C) From his perspective, Barak told the Casey delegation 
that the GOI was in no position to dictate policy to the 
Palestinians or the USG regarding the Peace Process -- "it 
takes two to tango, and three to negotiate," he said.  Barak 
noted that it is the GOI's responsibility to ensure that "no 
stone is left unturned" regarding the Peace Process; if 
efforts to achieve peace ultimately fail, then the GOI must 
be able to state that every effort was pursued.  He said he 
personally had no objection to "two states for two nations," 
and panned Arab arguments for a bi-national state in Israel. 
Barak said Israel envisions "two peoples living side by side 
in peace and good neighborliness" as the final goal. 
4. (C) With the Ackerman delegation, Barak focused on the 
need for a regional approach to the peace process.  He 
supports a regional initiative for peace and cooperation for 
the entire Middle East region to be launched by Israel.  He 
stressed as well the need to build trust and convince the 
U.S. administration that the new Israeli government is 
"serious in its efforts toward peace." 
5. (C) Barak commented on political developments in the West 
Bank and Gaza in both meetings.  He said the GOI continues to 
review its policy, and then added that the Palestinian 
Authority has much to accomplish in terms of law enforcement, 
a functioning judiciary, and regaining control of Gaza before 
a "balanced" Palestinian state can be created.  He has been 
extremely impressed with the work of U.S. Security 
Coordinator Gen. Dayton training PA security forces, and 
commended Salam Fayyad's concrete, practical approach. 
6. (C) Barak made clear in these meetings that he feels the 
Palestinian Authority is weak and lacks self-confidence, and 
that Gen. Dayton's training helps bolster confidence.  He 
explained that the GOI had consulted with Egypt and Fatah 
prior to Operation Cast Lead, asking if they were willing to 
assume control of Gaza once Israel defeated Hamas.  Not 
surprisingly, Barak said, the GOI received negative answers 
from both.  He stressed the importance of continued 
consultations with both Egypt and Fatah -- as well as the NGO 
community -- regarding Gaza reconstruction, and to avoid 
publicly linking any resolution in Gaza to the release of 
kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. 
Iran/North Korea 
7. (C) In his meeting with CODEL Casey, Barak said the GOI 
believes its "keystone" relations with the USG remain strong. 
 He described the integral role the USG plays in preserving 
Israel's Qualitative Military Edge (QME), especially when 
faced with threats posed by Iran, Hizballah, and Hamas.  He 
noted that the GOI's positions on Iran are well known, and 
described North Korea's recent nuclear test as a "second 
wake-up call" (the first being the AQ Khan network).  Barak 
asked rhetorically how a lack of firm response to North Korea 
would be interpreted by Iran's leadership, speculating the 
USG would be viewed as a "paper tiger." 
8. (C) In both meetings, Barak said "no option should be 
removed from the table" when confronting Iran and North 
Korea; engagement will only work in conjunction with a 
credible military option, he said.  Barak said he was 
TEL AVIV 00001177  002 OF 002 
personally skeptical that engagement would lead to an 
acceptable resolution, and argued in favor of a paradigm 
shift to confront the triple threat posed by nuclear 
proliferation, Islamic extremist terrorism, and rogue/failing 
states.  He said a strategic partnership with China, Russia, 
India, and the EU is essential in facing these threats. 
Barak argued that failure to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran 
would result in a nuclear arms race in the region as Turkey, 
Egypt, and Saudi Arabia look to acquire nuclear weapons. 
9. (C) When asked if the USG and GOI have fundamental 
differences of opinion when assessing Iran's nuclear program, 
Barak said we share the same intelligence, but acknowledged 
differences in analysis.  He suggested that the USG view is 
similar to presenting evidence in a criminal court case in 
which a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. 
As such, USG standards are tougher -- especially following 
the failure to find WMD in Iraq -- while end-products such as 
the 2007 NIE unintentionally take on a softer tone as a 
result.  Barak said the fate of the region and the world 
rests on our ability to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear 
weapons -- as such, the standards for determining guilt 
should be lower as the costs are higher. 
10. (C) In both meetings, Barak described Iranians as "chess, 
not backgammon players."  As such, Iran will attempt to avoid 
any hook to hang accusations on, and look to Pakistan and 
North Korea as models to emulate in terms of acquiring 
nuclear weapons while defying the international community. 
He doubted Tehran would opt for an open, relatively 
low-threshold test like the recent one in North Korea. 
Rather, Iran will seek ways to bypass the NPT while ensuring 
its program is redundant and well-protected to prevent an 
irreparable military strike.  Barak estimated a window 
between 6 and 18 months from now in which stopping Iran from 
acquiring nuclear weapons might still be viable.  After that, 
he said, any military solution would result in unacceptable 
collateral damage.  He also expressed concern that should 
Iran develop nuclear capabilities, other rogue states and/or 
terrorist groups would not be far behind. 
11. (C) Barak reinforced his message regarding Pakistan in 
both meetings.  He described Pakistan as his "private 
nightmare," suggesting the world might wake up one morning 
"with everything changed" following a potential Islamic 
extremist takeover.  When asked if the use of force on Iran 
might backfire with moderate Muslims in Pakistan, thereby 
exacerbating the situation, Barak acknowledged Iran and 
Pakistan are interconnected, but disagreed with a causal 
chain. To the contrary, he argued that if the United States 
had directly confronted North Korea in recent years, others 
would be less inclined to pursue nuclear weapons programs. 
By avoiding confrontation with Iran, Barak argued, the U.S. 
faces a perception of weakness in the region. 
12. (U) CODELS Casey and Ackerman did not have the 
opportunity to clear this message. 
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