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Reference ID Date Classification Origin
09TELAVIV2502 2009-11-18 14:02 SECRET Embassy Tel Aviv
DE RUEHTV #2502/01 3221434
O 181434Z NOV 09
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 TEL AVIV 002502 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/18/2019 
Classified By: A/DCM Marc Sievers, reasons 1.4 (b),(d) 
1. (S) Summary:  As part of the 40th Joint Political Military 
Group (JPMG), U.S. and GOI counterparts discussed security 
issues in the Near East region.  GOI officials expressed 
support for the P5 plus 1 engagement process with Iran, but 
doubted the process would lead to any change in Iranian 
behavior -- Iran will use the engagement process as an 
opportunity to continue its pursuit of a nuclear weapon. 
Assistant Secretary for Political Military Affairs Andrew 
Shapiro stressed that engagement with Tehran was not "open 
ended"; the United States is preparing sanctions in the event 
engagement does not prove successful.  GOI interlocutors 
continued to express concerns regarding U.S. support of the 
Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF); U.S. participants reiterated 
U.S. support of the LAF as a counterweight to Hizballah.  A/S 
Shapiro noted NEA, with PM participation and support, plans 
to brief the GOI on the U.S. policy regarding Lebanon in the 
near future.  In a continuation from the JPMG Executive 
Session, GOI interlocutors made the argument that U.S. arms 
transfers in the region could potentially arm future enemies 
of Israel.  GOI officials expressed frustration over the 
Goldstone Report; U.S. officials advocated sharing lessons 
learned regarding confronting terrorists in 
civilian-populated areas.  GOI officials noted improved 
counter-smuggling efforts from Egypt regarding arms transfers 
to Gaza via the Sinai.  However, they argued that Egypt can 
and should do more to prevent the flow of arms.  U.S. 
delegation members also briefed on U.S. policy in Iraq, and 
expressed concerns about the current situation in Yemen. 
This is the third of four cables (septels) reporting on the 
JPMG.  End summary. 
2. (SBU) Main Israeli Participants: 
-- Brigadier General (res) Pinchas Buchris, MOD Director 
-- Major General (ret) Amos Gilad, MOD Political-Military 
-- Brigadier General Ronen Dan, acting Israeli Defense 
Attache to the United States 
-- Gad Dovev, Director, MOD Mission, New York 
-- Alon Bar, MFA Deputy Director General for Strategic Affairs 
-- COL Shimon Arad, IDF J5 
-- Rami Yungman, MOD Political-Military Bureau 
-- Schmuel Royter, Assistant to the MOD Director General 
Main U.S. Participants: 
-- Andrew Shapiro, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of 
Political-Military Affairs 
-- James Hursch, Director, DTSA 
-- Dr. Colin Kahl, International Security Affairs, Deputy 
Assistant Secretary of Defense 
-- Brigadier General Jefforey Smith, Joint Staff 
-- Beth McCormick, Deputy Director, DSCA 
-- Prem Kumar, Director for Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian 
and Jordanian Affairs, NSC 
-- Tom Goldberger, Director for Israel and Palestinian 
Affairs, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs 
-- COL Richard Burgess, Defense Attache, U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv 
-- Robert Maggi, PM Coordinator for Counter Piracy 
-- Kevin Maloney, Licensing Director, PM/DTCL 
3. (S) MOD Director General Pinchas Buchris began the 
plenary, stating this was "perhaps the most important JPMG to 
date."  He pointed to the threat of a nuclear Iran, and 
expressed hope that U.S. leadership will find a way to stop 
Iran.  Otherwise, a nuclear-armed Iran will "impact the 
stability of the world," Buchris said.  A/S Shapiro described 
this 40th JPMG as a key forum and the primary mechanism in 
the political-military dialogue between the United States and 
Israel.  He said the United States wants to "re-energize" the 
JPMG, with the goal to "bring back strategic elements" into 
the discussion.  A/S Shapiro highlighted the importance of 
mutual understanding and transparent dialogue. 
4. (S) MOD Political-Military Director Amos Gilad presented a 
strategic overview.  He began with Iran, reciting President 
Obama's statement made during a visit to Israel prior to 
becoming president that the United States would not tolerate 
a nuclear Iran.  Gilad said Israel concurs, and described 
current dialogue with Iran as the "most sensitive stage" and 
Iran's "last chance."  He said Iran remains determined to 
TEL AVIV 00002502  002 OF 004 
reach the "nuclear option," which he described as 
"intolerable."  He quoted former President and Ahmadinejad 
opponent Rafsanjani as saying Iran "only needs one bomb for 
Israel," implying that Iran will continue to threaten Israel 
regardless of its leadership. 
5. (S) A/S Shapiro noted that the United States shares 
Israel's concerns that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons 
program.  He said that the United States is beginning with 
engagement, but at the same time is preparing tougher 
measures should engagement fail.  A/S Shapiro stressed that 
engagement was not "open ended" -- the United States needs to 
see concrete steps and tangible results from the P5 1 talks. 
He noted concerns over the Qom facility; if Iran does not 
respond to engagement, then the United States will move 
toward stronger steps such as sanctions.  DASD Kahl 
reiterated that it is not our intention to allow Iran to "run 
out the clock," and noted that engagement also serves to 
build international consensus on sanctions.  MFA Deputy 
Director for Strategic Affairs Alon Bar argued that the 
United States must present a clearer message to the Europeans 
on what is expected of them regarding sanctions. 
6. (S) A representative from Mossad said Tehran understands 
that by reacting positively to engagement, Iran can continue 
to "play for time" and avoid sanctions while pursuing its 
strategic objective to obtain a military nuclear capability. 
From Mossad's perspective, there is no reason to believe Iran 
will do anything but use negotiations to stall for time so 
that by 2010-2011, Iran will have the technological 
capability to build a nuclear weapon -- essentially reducing 
the question of weaponizing to a political decision.  Mossad 
said Iran's main crisis is in the political sphere -- the 
current regime is weaker than prior to the elections, but 
does not face significant risk as its security apparatus 
remains loyal, while the opposition lacks a charismatic 
leader.  The goal of the regime, therefore, is to calm down 
the domestic political environment -- Khamenei realizes the 
frustration demonstrated following the elections has not 
disappeared.  BG Smith asked if Khamenei's death might change 
the political landscape; Mossad noted no information to 
suggest a change in Khamenei's health, while those 
surrounding him appear more loyal than ever. 
7. (S) Mossad believes Iran wants to become a regional 
hegemon, and is dictating its agenda by using Hamas and 
Hizballah as force multipliers.  In that respect, Iran is 
very creative in finding ways to transfer weapons systems to 
its proxies.  Mossad said Tehran also understands the effort 
to split Syria from Iran's influence, and is working hard to 
deepen its relationship with Syria as a result.  DASD Kahl 
argued that Iran is weaker regionally today than in recent 
years.  He noted progress in Iraq, the results of the recent 
Lebanese elections, and outreach to Syria as signs of a 
weaker Iran.  DASD Kahl also noted increased U.S. credibility 
in the Muslim world, while the crackdown following the 
Iranian elections exposed the current regime as brutal to the 
region and in Europe. 
8. (S) Gilad addressed threats posed by "Hizballahstan" and 
"Hamastan," noting that Hizballah/Hamas-Syria-Iran 
cooperation has strengthened.  He noted that rockets from 
Lebanon can now cover the entire territory of Israel, while 
ballistic missiles -- although not new -- remain Israel's 
most serious threat with adversaries having the capability to 
target Israeli citizens and major cities. IDF J5 Col Shimon 
Arad noted four main trends in Lebanon: 1) internal political 
deadlock since the elections; 2) Hizballah's growing military 
capabilities; 3) Lebanon as a volatile military arena; and 4) 
Lebanon's susceptibility to outside influences, including 
Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.  He recommended improved 
US.-Israel coordination, and called for an exchange of views. 
 Arad also recommended creating Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) 
deconfliction measures, demanding improved LAF performance, 
and exerting greater pressure on Syria and smuggling. 
Finally, he called for sanctions on the Iranian Republican 
Guard Corps (IRGC), trilateral meetings with the Lebanese and 
UNIFIL to deter Hizballah, and bolstering UNIFIL by extending 
Gen. Graziano's tour for an additional six months. 
9. (S) A/S Shapiro acknowledged the GOI's desire for 
specifics regarding U.S. policy on Lebanon, and hoped to 
invite GOI representatives to Washington in the near future 
for a full brief led by NEA, with PM participation and 
support.  He cited the need to provide an alternative to 
Hizballah, which explains U.S. goals to strengthen the LAF as 
a counterweight.  DASD Kahl argued that any LAF cooperation 
TEL AVIV 00002502  003 OF 004 
with Hizballah is pragmatic given the LAF's current weakness. 
 He noted that U.S. assistance has been temporarily put on 
hold since there is still no Lebanese government.  Kahl also 
argued that prospects for better relations with Damascus 
depend on Syrian desires for better relations with the United 
States and the return of the Golan Heights.  Arad argued that 
more must be done to weaken radicals and cease smuggling. 
Gilad said the GOI cannot envision a government in Lebanon 
without Hizballah, and said the LAF will come to the defense 
of Hizballah if attacked by Israel -- thus, a strengthened 
LAF hurts Israel. 
10. (S) Turning to U.S. regional arms transfers, Gilad 
suggested Qualitative Military Edge (QME) as a "codename" for 
potential threats against Israel.  Israel currently enjoys 
peace with regimes in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the 
United Arab Emirates -- but the future is uncertain, and each 
of these regimes faces the potential for change, he argued. 
U.S. weapons -- "the best in the world" -- level the playing 
field by reducing the need for training -- and could 
ultimately aid a future enemy of Israel, Gilad said.  A/S 
Shapiro stressed the importance of transparency -- while 
there may be differences between Israel and the United States 
in terms of a regional assessment, the key is to ensure that 
there are no surprises, he said. 
Peace Process 
11. (S) Gilad described the Middle East peace process as a 
"pillar" of Israeli security.  He quoted PM Netanyahu and 
President Peres that Israel remains sincerely committed to 
peace.  Gilad noted however, that the re-launching of 
negotiations is complicated by the split in Palestinian 
leadership.  He said a weak and corrupt PA had lost Gaza 
despite Israeli warnings.  Gilad said 2010 will prove pivotal 
with Palestinian elections looming and Egyptian mediation 
efforts to broker reconciliation between Hamas and the PA 
having failed.  That said, he noted that Israeli-PA security 
and economic cooperation in the West Bank continues to 
improve as Jenin and Nablus flourish, and described 
Palestinian security forces as the "good guys."  NEA/IPA 
Director Tom Goldberger said Special Envoy Sen. Mitchell 
continues his mission, and noted that Egyptian reconciliation 
efforts were meant to strengthen the PA, not weaken it. 
Goldstone Report 
12. (S) Gilad addressed Israel's immediate neighbors within 
the context of the Goldstone Report.  He said Israel has 
checked "all the details" of the report, and have concluded 
that the report's accusations are "baseless."  Buchris said 
the report sets a bad precedent for countries trying to 
protect its citizens from terrorists; he noted 300,000 phone 
calls from the IDF to houses in Gaza ahead of strikes in the 
effort to prevent civilian casualties -- "no other country 
has taken such steps," Buchris argued.  A/S Shapiro 
highlighted strong U.S. opposition to the report's referral 
to the UN Security Council, noting the report's biased 
13. (S) Gilad said Israel only entered Gaza after Hamas 
violated the ceasefire or "tahdiya," which many Israelis felt 
was "humiliating" and left Defense Minister Barak open to 
criticism.  Gilad characterized Operation Cast Lead as a 
success that accounted for humanitarian issues; the IDF 
showed restraint in the operation because Israel did not want 
to re-occupy Gaza.  DASD Kahl advocated sharing perspectives 
and lessons learned on strategic communication to more 
effectively confront terrorists in civilian-populated areas. 
NSC Director for Israel and Palestinian Affairs Prem Kumar 
noted continued UNSC interest in the Goldstone Report, and 
asked Israel to inform the United States on any additional 
efforts or investigations the GOI was taking to help deflect 
any further damage from the report. 
14. (S) Gilad said Israel was frustrated by its Arab 
neighbors -- including specifically Egypt -- for supporting 
the Goldstone Report, which complicates the peace process. 
Israel continues to benefit from good security cooperation 
with Jordan, he said.  Gilad argued that Egypt could stop 
smuggling into Gaza "completely," and questioned whether 
Egypt should be judged by its efforts or results.  Gilad 
TEL AVIV 00002502  004 OF 004 
stressed the latter, and argued Egypt can do more on 
counter-smuggling.  Finally, he noted Israeli concerns that 
Egypt continues to prepare for a potential future military 
confrontation with Israel, while no Egyptian military 
officers visit Israel. 
15. (S) A/S Shapiro outlined U.S. military assistance to 
strengthen Egyptian border security, counter-terrorism, 
peacekeeping and civil defense efforts.  He said the United 
States is working with Egypt to improve regional security 
efforts, such as counter-smuggling.  Regarding the Gulf 
States and Saudi Arabia, A/S Shapiro stressed efforts to 
improve energy security and counter-terrorism, while 
bolstering the capabilities of the Gulf Cooperation Council 
(GCC) in the face of the Iranian threat.  Finally, he noted 
U.S. withdrawal from the Anatolian Eagle exercise following 
the Turkish decision to suspend the IDF's participation.  A/S 
Shapiro said the United States has been delivering the 
message that Turkey must improve its relationship with 
16. (S) PM Counter-Piracy Coordinator Maggi briefed on the 
counter smuggling technical discussion meeting (septel).  He 
cited the importance of working with Israel's neighbors -- 
including especially Egypt and Turkey -- to prevent Iranian 
weapons from entering Gaza.  Maggi said more pressure should 
be applied in the EU and UN to gain more latitude -- and 
possibly further action from the EU.  He said tracking cash 
flows, and increasing prosecutions and incarcerations were 
important, with the ultimate goal of increasing cooperation 
and momentum.  Goldberger said Egypt sees Hamas as a national 
security threat, and added that Egypt had closed 200 tunnels 
since the beginning of 2009. 
17. (S) Goldberger noted Egyptian domestic political 
sensitivities, and questioned whether more commercial and 
humanitarian goods could be allowed through the Gaza border 
crossings.  Gilad strongly stated that there were no limits 
on commercial goods through the border crossings.  Goldberger 
asked about construction materiel like cement; Gilad said the 
GOI would not allow Hamas to build bunkers -- goods such as 
cement or iron would not be allowed because of their military 
applications.  He also argued that smuggling is a lucrative 
business for all involved, including the Egyptian government, 
and said the best way to stop the smuggling was to increase 
arrests and incarcerations.  Goldberger mentioned U.S. 
economic and development assistance efforts in Sinai.  He 
noted that most requests to third countries to deny arms 
transfer overflights are based on Israeli intelligence; 
additional information/intelligence from the GOI would ensure 
greater cooperation.  Bar raised prosecuting shipping 
companies complicit in arms transfers to Gaza; A/S Shapiro 
said he would take that back to Washington for further 
18. (S) On Iraq, DASD Kahl noted there are currently 125,000 
U.S. soldiers in Iraq, which will be reduced to 50,000 
soldiers by September 1, 2010 with complete U.S. troop 
withdrawal by the end of 2011.  He noted the U.S. goal of 
establishing a long-term strategic relationship with a 
sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq.  A/S Shapiro and 
DASD Kahl briefed the GOI on U.S. efforts to assist the Iraqi 
military to complete its counterinsurgency force, transition 
the military to a force that can defend its borders, and 
align the Iraqi military more closely to the United States. 
19. (S) DASD Kahl pointed to the growing threat (al Qaida, al 
Houthi insurgency, and southern secessionists) in Yemen.  He 
said the United States is attempting to prevent Yemen from 
heading toward an "Afghanistan-type scenario" with general 
lawlessness and increased ungoverned spaces.  BG Smith noted 
that al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) continues to 
fester in North and sub-Saharan Africa.  He said Egypt is 
actively involved in countering AQIM with 3,800 soldiers in 
Sudan -- this should be encouraged and expanded. 
20. (U) A/S Shapiro has cleared on this cable.