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Cablegate: Staffdel Kuiken-Cammack's Meeting with Pm Advisor

DE RUEHTV #2734/01 3520845
O 180845Z DEC 09

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 002734


E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/18/2019

Classified By: Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Marc Sievers, reasons 1.4

1. (S) Summary: During a December 14 meeting with Senate
staff members (Michael Kuiken, Senate Armed Services
Committee, and Perry Cammack, Senate Committee on Foreign
Relations), the Prime Minister's Director for Policy Planning
Ron Dermer confirmed a solid U.S.-Israeli relationship that
weathered a "rocky start" following the transition to new
administrations in both countries. He argued that the
international environment has changed in favor of pursuing a
pressure track with Iran; tougher sanctions combined with
continued domestic pressure within Iran might bring about
change in Tehran. He expressed frustration with the peace
process, noting that the GOI has taken steps in the effort to
convince Abu Mazen to return to the negotiating table to no
avail. Dermer said PM Netanyahu's patience has "run out,"
and that the GOI will make no more concessions in that regard
-- it is time for Abu Mazen to "be a leader." End summary.

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U.S.-Israeli Relations

2. (S) Dermer described U.S.-Israeli relations as good and
improving, but acknowledged that the relationship between the
new Obama and Netanyahu administrations got off to a "rough,
rocky start." He noted that changes in administrations in
both countries at nearly the same time were "relatively rare"
-- both entered office and started formulating policy based
on electoral mandates representing change from the previous
administrations. Dermer 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

3. (S) Since this disagreement, Dermer said relations between
the two administrations have improved daily, and were "only
getting stronger." He noted greater U.S.-Israeli cooperation
and coordination, especially with regard to confronting Iran
and its attempts to acquire nuclear weapons. Dermer said
that President Obama does not get enough credit in Israel for
weighing in helpfully on several issues affecting Israel's
security, such as the Goldstone Report, problems in the
Turkey-Israel relations, and the recent EU Council statement
on East Jerusalem. He also cited the successful Juniper
Cobra joint missile defense exercise hosted by Israel in
November 2009.


4. (S) Dermer said there was "great understanding" between
President Obama and PM Netanyahu on Iran during their first
meeting in May 2009. Since then, several events related to
Iran have helped changed the international community's view
on Iran: the Iranian elections and the regime's subsequent
crackdown, the discovery of the Qom enrichment facility, and
Iran's refusal of the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) proposal.
Dermer noted that PM Netanyahu has been quite vocal on Iran
over the last 15 years; as the PM's communications advisor,
Dermer said he is often asked why Netanyahu has not spoken
out against Tehran recently. Dermer described the PM's
uncharacteristic public reticence as a strategic decision to
give the United States a chance to succeed and not undermine
the engagement process.

5. (S) Dermer suggested that the "stars are aligning" in
favor of putting more pressure on Iran. He described the
upcoming French UNSC presidency as positive, while the GOI
was pleased to see the Swedish EU presidency come to an end.
Dermer said the trick was to convince Tehran that the
continued pursuit of its weapons program would cause the
regime's downfall, and that Russia remains the key on

6. (S) Dermer acknowledged disparate voices within the GOI on
strategy regarding Iran, but added that PM Netanyahu favored
tough economic sanctions combined with support for internal
democratic dissent. Dermer compared Iran to the former
Soviet Union, in which experts were shocked by its internal
fragility and subsequent sudden collapse. The assumption is
that Iran is powerful, he said, but internal dissent coupled
with constant external pressure could lead to the fall of the
regime. He noted the importance of finding Iran's "Achilles
heel" to apply pressure on the regime -- perhaps through
Iran's lack of oil refinery infrastructure. Dermer also said
that PM Netanyahu was impressed with the recent efforts by
Senators Brownback and Specter to secure funding to provide
all-source, uncensored internet access to peoples living

TEL AVIV 00002734 002 OF 002

under repressive regimes.

Peace Process

7. (S) Dermer noted that the GOI has taken a number of steps
in the effort to jump-start the peace process with the
Palestinians, but to no avail -- as a result, Netanyahu's
patience has "run out," he said. Dermer noted progress on
West Bank checkpoints and outpost evacuations, Netanyahu's
acceptance of the two-state solution during his June 2009 Bar
Ilan speech, allowing "violent" individuals into the West
Bank to attend the Fatah party congress, and the recent
settlement moratorium. He claimed that 70 percent of the
Israeli public opposes the moratorium (note: we think this is
an exaggeration) -- this was a difficult decision for
Netanyahu, but one he decided to make to restart

8. (S) Dermer lamented the lack of a partner on the
Palestinian side to pursue negotiations. He pointed to an
interview Abu Mazen gave to The Washington Post's Jackson
Diehl six months ago in which Abu Mazen implied he would "sit
back and wait" for the United States to deliver Israel to the
negotiating table. Dermer accused Abu Mazen of trying to
internationalize the conflict, which he described as a "big
mistake." The GOI understands Abu Mazen's 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.

9. (S) Dermer noted that there will come a point readily
apparent to the GOI in which the settlement freeze offers
diminishing returns. He said the steps or "concessions" the
GOI has taken thus far have been devalued because they were
made outside the context of negotiations -- "give us
context," he said. In that regard, Dermer stated
categorically that the GOI will not make any more concessions
to Abu Mazen in order to return to negotiations -- "that is
over." He asked what steps the PA has taken to return to the
negotiating table, and dismissed Palestinian progress in the
security sector as simply efforts to preserve Fatah's power.

10. (S) Dermer said that while Netanyahu is ready to engage
at any time, the Israeli public is skeptical regarding the
benefits of returning to negotiations with the Palestinians.
He noted that it would be "extremely difficult" for Netanyahu
to approach the Cabinet at this point regarding negotiations
when all the GOI has received in return for its efforts was a
"slap-down from the international community" following the
Goldstone Report.

11. (S) Dermer said Netanyahu does not believe Abu Mazen is
as weak as he claims, and that Abu Mazen has the potential to
"rise to the occasion" in negotiating peace. However, he
said Abu Mazen must make some sort of gesture to return to
the table and "prepare his people" for the difficult
decisions necessary for peace. Seemingly simple steps such
as employing new language or condemning violence and
terrorism -- something the GOI believes Abu Mazen has not
done since 2003 -- would be very appreciated, Dermer said.

12. (U) The staffdel cleared this cable.

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