Tuesday, November 30, 2010

WikiLeaks and the Middle East

The release of thousands of documents by WikiLeaks has dealt a blow to U.S. prestige and influence in the world. Leaders of other nations will be far more careful in what they say to U.S. diplomats if they believe their private conversations might someday become public.

If there is any silver lining in this diplomatic cloud, it comes through the insight we have gained into the world of diplomacy. A tiny curtain was pulled back and we were given acces to the private conversations of world leaders. Most of the information was not new, or unexpected. Some was already known through earlier leaks to the press by "unnamed government sources" and "senior government officials." The WikiLeaks documents simply unmasked those who were the original sources for that information. And now, having been burned, they will be far more guarded in the future.

Is there anything of significance in the documents relating to Israel and the Middle East? Some items have emerged, though most are not surprises.

1. The major concern among America's Arab allies in the Middle East is Iran, not Israel, especially Iran's nuclear program.

2. Over three years ago Benjamin Netanyahu predicted that the acid test for determining how serious the Palestinians were about peace would be their willingness to accept a Jewish state without demanding a right of return for Palestinians.

3. The West failed the Palestinians when it helped fund a corrupt, bloated bureaucracy rather than working to build a healthy economy.

4. Israel tried to coordinate the Gaza war with both Egypt and the Palestinian Authority--to have them take control of Gaza after Israel smashed Hamas--but both refused.

I'm sure more items will surface as people pour through the documents, but these are some of the major points that have surfaced so far.

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