Netanyahu says WikiLeaks cables show Arab states share Israeli concerns about Iran's nuclear program
Monday, November 29, 2010; 11:32 PM
TEL AVIV - Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed hope Monday that U.S. diplomatic cables revealing that several Arab states share his country's concern about Iran's nuclear weapons program could build momentum for tougher international action against the effort.
"More and more states, governments and leaders in the Middle East and the wider region and the world believe this is the fundamental threat," Netanyahu said, referring to disclosures in cables released by the Web site WikiLeaks. According to the cables, some leaders, including Saudi King Abdullah, have advocated using military action to stop the Iranian nuclear program.
"There's a gap between what they say privately and publicly," Netanyahu said at an annual gathering of the Tel Aviv Journalists' Association. Regional leaders read publicly from one "script" that says the "greatest threat is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Netanyahu said. "But in reality, leaders understand that this narrative is bankrupt. There is a new understanding."
Israeli analysts responded as enthusiastically as Netanyahu.
The leaked documents show that "the entire world, not just Israel, is panicked over the Iranian nuclear program," wrote Sever Plocker, a commentator for the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth.
The leak, he said, "strengthens the main message" of the United States and Israel that "Iran poses the greatest clear and present danger to the stability of the world, and the world has to act to remove this malignant tumor."
In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the cables show that other countries reached the same conclusion about Iran that the United States did when it moved to impose sanctions: "that we must do whatever we can to muster the international community to take action to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state."
'The right proportion'
Some Israeli experts suggested that the WikiLeaks storm would distract the Obama administration from negotiations with Israel on a new settlement freeze that the United States hopes will reinvigorate peace talks with the Palestinians.
Zalman Shoval, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States and an adviser to Netanyahu on Israeli-U.S. relations, said the notion that the United States could not take tougher action on Iran without first moving forward on the Israeli-Palestinian front was undermined by the WikiLeaks disclosures.
"It puts matters in the right proportion," Shoval said.
At a news conference in Tehran, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed the cables as "an intelligence game, a propaganda war" orchestrated by the United States, and he predicted they would have no effect.
"Iran is a friend of the region, and all nations are brothers," he said. "This will have no impact on regional relations."