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Netanyahu: 'Significant trade' with Iraq
Leaked document reveals prime minister told US senator of 'strong but unpublicized trade' between Haifa port and Iraq via Jordan
Israel has significant trade relations with Iraq, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed about a year and a half ago in a meeting with US Senator Benjamin Cardin, according to a document revealed Tuesday by the WikiLeaks website.

 

 

During the conversation, which was held in February 2009, several days after the Knesset elections, Netanyahu boasted that noting that he had previously "turned around" the Israeli economy as finance minister by creating workplaces for Israelis and Palestinians.

 

Pointing to what he described as "strong but unpublicized trade" between Haifa port and Iraq via Jordan, he suggested assembly points could be set up in the West Bank for some goods, which would create thousands of jobs. He did not elaborate on the nature or extent of the trade.

 

 

According to the prime minister, this would not be a substitute for a political settlement, but economic prosperity would make peace possible, as occurred in Northern Ireland.


 

Document revealed by WikiLeaks

 

In the same meeting, Netanyahu praised Jordan's late King Hussein, describing him as heroic and noting that he came from his "death bed" in 1998 to get Netanyahu and then-Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat to reach an agreement at the Wye River talks.

 

He noted, however, that when Saddam Hussein took Kuwait, even King Hussein "snuggled up" to the Iraqi leader out of necessity. "Such is the reality in the Middle East," Netanyahu said.

 

In the same meeting, Netanyahu expressed support for the concept of land swaps, and emphasized that he did not want to govern the West Bank and Gaza but rather to stop attacks from being launched from there.

 

Following the revelation, his office explained that his intention was to express his willingness for territorial compromises as part of a future peace treaty.

  

In another meeting, Netanyahu harshly criticized former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's handling of the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Israel "dripped troops into (Hezbollah's) gunsights," Netanyahu told the Americans, an approach he termed "stupid".

 

Other WikiLeaks documents revealed that the Israeli prime minister is perceived by Egypt as an intelligent and charming person who fails to keep his promises.

 

Aviel Magnezi contributed to this report

 

 

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