Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Netanyahu's patience with Abbas has 'run out', says WikiLeaks cable

Premier's senior policy aide told visiting U.S. senators in December 2009 - just three weeks after settlement freeze declared - that Israel would no longer make concessions to the Palestinians.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's patience with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has "run out," a WikiLeaks cable leaked on Monday revealed.

In a "secret" December 2009 cable dispatched to Washington from the embassy in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu's senior policy aide Ron Dermer is also quoted as telling two U.S. senators that Israel has no partner to peace.

Dermer, who is considered once of Netanyahu's closest confidantes in the Prime Minister's Bureau, met with Michael Kuiken, of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Perry Cammack, of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, in Jerusalem on December 14, 2009. The moments of that meeting were included in a cable sent by Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Marc Sievers.

The meeting between Dermer and the two senators took place just three weeks after the cabinet decided to freeze construction in West Bank settlements for a temporary 10-month period. Without that decision, the Palestinians said they would refuse to return to the negotiating table with Israel.

Netanyahu had taken "a number of steps in the effort to jump-start the peace process with the Palestinians, but to no avail," Dermer
said, according to cable. "As a result, Netanyahu's patience has 'run out'."

Some 70 percent of the Israeli public was opposed to the moratorium but Netanyahu had decided to push it forth anyway so that peace negotiations could resume, said Dermer.

Sievers wrote in the cable that he believed this claim regarding public opinion to be "exaggerated."

Dermer also "lamented the lack of a partner on the Palestinian side to pursue negotiations" with Netanyahu. Abbas was trying to "internationalize the conflict" by waiting for the United States to "deliver" Israel to the negotiating table, Dermer believed; the cable quoted him describing this attempt as a "big mistake."

The Israeli government "understands Abu Mazen's [Abbas'] political constraints and lack of support from Arab regional partners - but at the end of the day, Abu Mazen must 'be a leader,'" Dermer said.

According to Dermer, the construction freeze and the others steps taken by Israel had yet to bear fruit.

The policy aide said that the steps or "concessions" taken by the Israeli government so far have been "devalued because they were made outside the context of negotiations". "Give us context," the cable quoted Dermer as saying.

Dermer went on to say "categorically" that the Israeli government would no longer make any concessions to pull Abbas back to negotiations, according to the cable.

"That is over," the cable quoted Dermer as saying. He said the Palestinians had not made any overtures in return, adding that the Palestinian Authority's security progress in the West Bank was just a ploy to keep the Fatah movement in power.

Dermer also said that Netanyahu did not believe that Abbas was as week as he claimed, saying the Palestinian leader "has the potential to 'rise to the occasion' in negotiating peace."

During his meeting with the Senators, Dermer also discussed the relations between Netanyahu's government and Barack Obama's administration. The two sides had gotten of to a "rocky start", Dermer said. Dermer also said that "the United States and Israel agree on so many things; when an issue of disagreement arises, the media tends to disproportionally accentuate the disagreement - as was the case earlier in the year on settlements," according to the cable.

by Haaretz.com

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