WikiLeaks: Netanyahu endorsed land swap concept
Siding with Lieberman? 2009 document leaked by WikiLeaks suggests prime minister expressed his support of land swap concept before US, said he does not wish to control Gaza, West Bank. PM's Office: His intention was to show willingness for territorial compromises as part of future peace deal
After being exposed as harshly criticizing the government's handling of the Second Lebanon War during his stint as opposition chairman, a WikiLeaks cable now suggests that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the US after winning the Knesset elections that he supports a land swap concept.
In a document sent on February 26, 2009 from the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu expressed support of a land swap as part of a peace agreement. He stressed to the US that Israel does not wish to control Gaza and the West Bank but rather prevent rockets being fired from those areas.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is a staunch supporter of the land swap concept, however Netanyahu has never publically sided with him on the issue.
In a meeting held two weeks after the Knesset elections, Netanyahu presented his "economic peace" doctrine. He said that as part of the plan a "pyramid" will be build from the ground up which will bolster the Palestinian Authority and provide an alternative to radical Islam.
The cable revealing Netanyahu's stance
Netanyahu added that an agreement with the PA was more probable than one with Syria because the Palestinians wish to distance themselves from Iran, while Damascus continues to tighten relations with Tehran. He noted that should Israel withdraw from the Golan Heights Syria will make promises it can't keep.
On Monday, it was revealed that as opposition chairman the Likud leader criticized the Olmert administration following the Second Lebanon War.
He reportedly told the US ambassador that Israel "dripped troops" into Hezbollah gun sights and described Kadima as a "phony party." Netanyahu also said that President Shimon Peres had confessed to him that Oslo was based on a false premise.
The Prime Minister's Office issued an official response to the report, clarifying that Netanyahu's intention was to show willingness for territorial compromises in the framework of a future peace treaty.
"This is the public policy of Netanyahu, this is policy today and it was his policy during his February 2009 meeting. Any other interpretation isn't correct and doesn't represent the prime minister's stance," it said.
'Iran has nuclear capability'
Another document revealed by WikiLeaks, which was sent from the US Embassy in Tel Aviv on December 23, 2009 quotes Netanyahu as saying that Iran already has the ability to manufacture a nuclear bomb.
The document details a meeting held between Netanyahu and Chairman of the House Armed Service Committee Ike Skelton. Netanyahu estimated that within a year or two the Islamic Republic will be capable of manufacturing a number of nuclear bombs.
Netanyahu expressed satisfaction with international cooperation on diplomatic efforts opposite Iran as well as the sanctions that were imposed on it. He described the exposure of the Qom nuclear site as an event which helped convice the international community of the need to act against Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Netanyahu estimated that the internal state in Iran was difficult, noting the post-election riots. In some of the documents it is claimed that the Mossad stirred the Tehran riots.
The prime minister also said that many Arab nations endorse steps against Tehran and noted that this will not be stated by them publically.
Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report.
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