Cablegate: Nato Deputy Secretary General Briefs Diplomatic


DE RUEHTV #2554/01 3310908
O 270908Z NOV 09



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: In a November 24 briefing to the
diplomatic corps held at the Canadian Embassy, NATO Deputy
Secretary General Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero described
positive meetings with GOI interlocutors in which both NATO
and the GOI expressed interest in enhancing the NATO-Israel
relationship. (Note: Canada serves as the NATO contact
country in Israel.) Amb. Bisogniero said GOI officials did
not raise potential Israeli membership in NATO, which was a
marked difference from his visit in 2007. However, GOI
officials continue to express interest in a status of forces
agreement (SOFA) with NATO. Amb. Bisogniero described Iran
as a "leitmotif" in all his conversations; other topics
included NATO's review of the Strategic Concept, Israeli
participation in Operation Active Endeavour, NATO's role in
Afghanistan, and potential Israeli participation in NATO
exercises and training opportunities. End summary.

2. (SBU) Amb. Bisogniero noted that this was his second visit
to Israel, the first taking place in October 2007. During
this latest visit, he met with FM Lieberman, Deputy Minister
of Defense Vilnai, members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and
Defense Committee, and IDF Deputy Chief of the General Staff
Major General Gantz, and engaged in strategic staff talks
with the Israeli interagency hosted by MFA Deputy Director
General for Western Europe Naor Gilon.

3. (SBU) Overall, Bisogniero characterized the visit as "very
positive," noting that Israel is often the first of the
Mediterranean Dialogue (Med D) partners to take advantage of
available NATO tools. He said Israel was the first Med D
partner to develop an Individual Cooperation Program (ICP),
which is currently in its second revision. Bisogniero said
both NATO and Israel interlocutors indicated a willingness to
"do more" with regard to the relationship. He noted,
however, that there was little mention of potential Israeli
membership in NATO -- a decided difference from his visit in

FM Lieberman

4. (SBU) Amb. Bisogniero described his meeting with FM
Lieberman as positive, noting that Lieberman invited the NATO
Secretary General to visit Israel, and plans to visit NATO
Headquarters in early 2010. Bisogniero said Lieberman spoke
extensively about Iran, noting a "January 1 deadline" but
neglecting to offer an explanation of what such a deadline
entailed. Bisogniero reiterated NATO's support for the P5 1
and IAEA efforts. He said Lieberman argued the international
community "missed a chance" to affect change after the
Iranian regime's brutal crackdown following the June national
elections. Bisogniero said Lieberman asked rhetorically what
expanded role NATO might play in the Middle East, but did not
offer any suggestions. Bisogniero noted this issue played a
more prevalent role during his visit in 2007; by and large, a
Middle East regional role for NATO was not discussed during
this latest visit.

5. (SBU) Amb. Bisogniero said Lieberman also was very
interested in NATO's relationship with Russia, especially
within the context of NATO enlargement and the 2008
Russia-Georgia conflict. Bisogniero said Lieberman was
seized with the issue of confronting Islamic radicalism and
extremism, and charged NATO to do more globally in that
regard. Bisogniero pointed to NATO's role in Afghanistan,
stressing NATO "cannot fail." Lieberman acknowledged NATO in
Afghanistan, but said NATO must do more in this "clash of

Strategic Staff Talks

6. (SBU) Amb. Bisogniero said the strategic staff talks
included representatives from the MFA, MOD, IDF, and Prime
Minister's Office. Bisogniero said all GOI interlocutors
expressed interest in expanded NATO-GOI relations, and
stressed the need for the North Atlantic Council (NAC) to
meet regularly with the seven Med D partners, as well as
resuming the Atlantic Policy Advisory Group (APAG) -- which
Bisogniero explained had been postponed following Operation
Cast Lead. Amb. Bisogniero said the "NAC plus 7" meetings
with the Med D partners are a key element from NATO's
perspective, as NATO must be viewed as attempting to assist

all Med D partners. He added that gathering the six Arab
partners and Israel around the table to discuss sensitive
issues was an important goal for NATO. Representatives from
the PM's Office noted a planned visit to Brussels by PM
Netanyahu tentatively scheduled for March 2010, and discussed
the possibility of Netanyahu addressing the NAC.

7. (SBU) Amb. Bisogniero said the strategic staff talks
reviewed several areas of NATO-GOI cooperation. He said the
NATO Senior Politico-Military Group on Proliferation (SGP)
had met with the GOI on several occasions, including most
recently in September 2009. Bisogniero said the GOI had been
invited to attend a NATO nonproliferation seminar in Warsaw
in December, and noted plans for the NATO Assistant Secretary
for Defense Planning to visit Israel in 2010. He said both
NATO and GOI interlocutors expressed interest in enhanced
contacts with respect to counterterrorism cooperation and
intelligence exchanges. Other potential areas of increased
NATO-GOI cooperation include civil emergency planning and
crisis management through the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response
Coordination Center (EADRCC). Bisogniero said the GOI
remains very interested in enhanced cooperation with the
North Atlantic Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA),
especially with regard to maintenance for its Patriot arsenal.

8. (SBU) Amb. Bisogniero said GOI interlocutors raised the
possibility of a status of forces agreement (SOFA) between
NATO and Israel. He explained that the issue of a SOFA is
sensitive -- Israel is the most prepared of the Med D
partners to conclude a SOFA with NATO. However, several NATO
Allies have expressed reservations regarding a SOFA with
Israel without formalizing one with the other Med D
countries. Bisogniero said the current iteration of Israel's
ICP includes language to identify alternatives to the SOFA in
the interim.

9. (SBU) Amb. Bisogniero said the strategic staff talks
addressed some of the practical arrangements regarding the
GOI's participation in NATO's Operation Active Endeavour
(OAE) in the Mediterranean Sea. He noted that the GOI had
expressed willingness to make its sole participating naval
vessel available earlier than anticipated -- as early as
January/February 2010 -- which demonstrates how serious the
GOI takes its participation. The strategic staff talks also
discussed potential Israeli participation in NATO's Crisis
Management Exercise (CMX) 09, as well as potential training
opportunities and counter-piracy cooperation. Bisogniero
said he encouraged the GOI to express its views regarding the
Strategic Concept review during an upcoming seminar in Oslo.


10. (SBU) Amb. Bisogniero described his meeting with members
from the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee as
positive. He said committee members questioned whether NATO
was truly committed to the effort in Afghanistan, and
suggested that NATO might find itself in a situation similar
to Israel's following Operation Cast Lead and the Goldstone
Report -- especially regarding civilian casualties.
Bisogniero described to the members NATO's strong policy on
avoiding civilian casualties. He said the committee members
also asked about Iran, and the Strategic Concept review.


11. (SBU) Amb. Bisogniero said IDF Deputy Chief of the
General Staff MG Gantz described a stark global situation,
noting a "third world war" by Islamic radicals against
Western civilization. Bisogniero emphasized to MG Gantz the
need to prioritize its ICP goals; according to Bisogniero, MG
Gantz said he would try to provide this by the end of the
year. Bisogniero said MG Gantz also discussed Iran, and
asked how Israel might help NATO in Afghanistan -- while the
provision of troops is highly unlikely, perhaps Israel can
assist in other ways such as sharing its experience in
countering improvised explosive devices (IEDs).


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