WikiLeaks: Netanyahu 'badmouthed' Olmert
Document originating in US Embassy in Tel Aviv reveals then-opposition leader harshly criticized former prime minister's handling of Second Lebanon War. Israel 'dripped troops into (Hezbollah's) gunsights,' Netanyahu told Americans, an approach he termed 'stupid'
One of the document revealed by the WikiLeaks website on Sunday night describes a meeting held in Tel Aviv on April 2007 between former American Ambassador Richard Jones, and American congressman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
During the meeting, then-Opposition Chairman Netanyahu harshly criticized Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his handling of the Second Lebanon War. Israel "dripped troops into (Hezbollah's) gunsights," Netanyahu told the Americans, an approach he termed "stupid".
He criticized the Olmert government for "lacking a sense of military maneuver." They had been afraid to take military casualties, he said, but instead got many civilian casualties. "If Olmert had mobilized the reserves in 10 days, seized ground, destroyed Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, and then withdrawn, he would be a hero today." Israel lost 121 soldiers and 44 civilians in the war.
Kadima 'a fake party'
This wasn't Netanyahu's only statement about former Prime Minister Olmert. According to the document, Netanyahu said the pressure on Olmert was accumulating as a result of corruption investigations and that he could be pushed out as a result of a rebellion within the Kadima party.
Kadima members, Netanyahu continued, are realizing they cannot allow Olmert to stay in power, but Kadima itself might collapse since it was a "fake party."
He described several scenarios for elections, but insisted that he was in no rush since he was "enjoying the time with his family" and rebuilding the Likud party.
Netanyahu commented that President Shimon Peres had admitted to him that the Oslo process had been based on a mistaken economic premise, and as a result European and US assistance to the Palestinians had gone to create a bloated bureaucracy, with PA employees looking to the international community to meet their payroll.
Economic squeeze on Iran
The meeting, which was also attended by US Congressman Gary Ackerman, chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, also focused on the Iranian nuclear threat and ways to bring down the Ayatollah regime.
Representative Ackerman told Netanyahu that in his meeting the day before with Egyptian President Mubarak, he had asked Mubarak if military action were necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, should the strike be carried out by the US or Israel? Mubarak had responded that if it came to that, the US should do it and Israel should stay out.
Netanyahu said he took Mubarak's point, but commented that he thought the Iranian regime, or at least President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, could be toppled by economic pressure.
He said the goal should be to encourage Ahmadinejad's political rivals to remove him from power. Afterward, if the pressure could be maintained it might be possible to bring down the entire Iranian regime. The idea was to use economic pressure to create a public sense of regime failure.
Netanyahu said he had consulted with noted historian Bernard Lewis, who believed that Iran would be less dangerous once Ahmadinejad was removed.
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