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Viewing cable 09TELAVIV2734, STAFFDEL KUIKEN-CAMMACK'S MEETING WITH PM ADVISOR

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TELAVIV2734 2009-12-18 08:08 2010-12-19 21:09 SECRET Embassy Tel Aviv
VZCZCXRO9963
OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHTV #2734/01 3520845
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 180845Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4639
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 002734 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/18/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV KWBG IS
SUBJECT: STAFFDEL KUIKEN-CAMMACK'S MEETING WITH PM ADVISOR 
RON DERMER 

Classified By: Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Marc Sievers, reasons 1.4 
(b),(d) 

1. (S) Summary: During a December 14 meeting with Senate 
staff members (Michael Kuiken, Senate Armed Services 
Committee, and Perry Cammack, Senate Committee on Foreign 
Relations), the Prime Minister's Director for Policy Planning 
Ron Dermer confirmed a solid U.S.-Israeli relationship that 
weathered a "rocky start" following the transition to new 
administrations in both countries. He argued that the 
international environment has changed in favor of pursuing a 
pressure track with Iran; tougher sanctions combined with 
continued domestic pressure within Iran might bring about 
change in Tehran. He expressed frustration with the peace 
process, noting that the GOI has taken steps in the effort to 
convince Abu Mazen to return to the negotiating table to no 
avail. Dermer said PM Netanyahu's patience has "run out," 
and that the GOI will make no more concessions in that regard 
-- it is time for Abu Mazen to "be a leader." End summary. 

U.S.-Israeli Relations 
---------------------- 

2. (S) Dermer described U.S.-Israeli relations as good and 
improving, but acknowledged that the relationship between the 
new Obama and Netanyahu administrations got off to a "rough, 
rocky start." He noted that changes in administrations in 
both countries at nearly the same time were "relatively rare" 
-- both entered office and started formulating policy based 
on electoral mandates representing change from the previous 
administrations. Dermer said that the United States and 
Israel agree on so many things; when an issue of disagreement 
arises, the media tends to disproportionally accentuate the 
disagreement -- as was the case earlier in the year on 
settlements. 

3. (S) Since this disagreement, Dermer said relations between 
the two administrations have improved daily, and were "only 
getting stronger." He noted greater U.S.-Israeli cooperation 
and coordination, especially with regard to confronting Iran 
and its attempts to acquire nuclear weapons. Dermer said 
that President Obama does not get enough credit in Israel for 
weighing in helpfully on several issues affecting Israel's 
security, such as the Goldstone Report, problems in the 
Turkey-Israel relations, and the recent EU Council statement 
on East Jerusalem. He also cited the successful Juniper 
Cobra joint missile defense exercise hosted by Israel in 
November 2009. 

Iran 
---- 

4. (S) Dermer said there was "great understanding" between 
President Obama and PM Netanyahu on Iran during their first 
meeting in May 2009. Since then, several events related to 
Iran have helped changed the international community's view 
on Iran: the Iranian elections and the regime's subsequent 
crackdown, the discovery of the Qom enrichment facility, and 
Iran's refusal of the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) proposal. 
Dermer noted that PM Netanyahu has been quite vocal on Iran 
over the last 15 years; as the PM's communications advisor, 
Dermer said he is often asked why Netanyahu has not spoken 
out against Tehran recently. Dermer described the PM's 
uncharacteristic public reticence as a strategic decision to 
give the United States a chance to succeed and not undermine 
the engagement process. 

5. (S) Dermer suggested that the "stars are aligning" in 
favor of putting more pressure on Iran. He described the 
upcoming French UNSC presidency as positive, while the GOI 
was pleased to see the Swedish EU presidency come to an end. 
Dermer said the trick was to convince Tehran that the 
continued pursuit of its weapons program would cause the 
regime's downfall, and that Russia remains the key on 
sanctions. 

6. (S) Dermer acknowledged disparate voices within the GOI on 
strategy regarding Iran, but added that PM Netanyahu favored 
tough economic sanctions combined with support for internal 
democratic dissent. Dermer compared Iran to the former 
Soviet Union, in which experts were shocked by its internal 
fragility and subsequent sudden collapse. The assumption is 
that Iran is powerful, he said, but internal dissent coupled 
with constant external pressure could lead to the fall of the 
regime. He noted the importance of finding Iran's "Achilles 
heel" to apply pressure on the regime -- perhaps through 
Iran's lack of oil refinery infrastructure. Dermer also said 
that PM Netanyahu was impressed with the recent efforts by 
Senators Brownback and Specter to secure funding to provide 
all-source, uncensored internet access to peoples living 

TEL AVIV 00002734 002 OF 002 


under repressive regimes. 

Peace Process 
------------- 

7. (S) Dermer noted that the GOI has taken a number of steps 
in the effort to jump-start the peace process with the 
Palestinians, but to no avail -- as a result, Netanyahu's 
patience has "run out," he said. Dermer noted progress on 
West Bank checkpoints and outpost evacuations, Netanyahu's 
acceptance of the two-state solution during his June 2009 Bar 
Ilan speech, allowing "violent" individuals into the West 
Bank to attend the Fatah party congress, and the recent 
settlement moratorium. He claimed that 70 percent of the 
Israeli public opposes the moratorium (note: we think this is 
an exaggeration) -- this was a difficult decision for 
Netanyahu, but one he decided to make to restart 
negotiations. 

8. (S) Dermer lamented the lack of a partner on the 
Palestinian side to pursue negotiations. He pointed to an 
interview Abu Mazen gave to The Washington Post's Jackson 
Diehl six months ago in which Abu Mazen implied he would "sit 
back and wait" for the United States to deliver Israel to the 
negotiating table. Dermer accused Abu Mazen of trying to 
internationalize the conflict, which he described as a "big 
mistake." The GOI understands Abu Mazen's political 
constraints and lack of support from Arab regional partners 
-- but at the end of the day, Abu Mazen must "be a leader," 
Dermer said. 

9. (S) Dermer noted that there will come a point readily 
apparent to the GOI in which the settlement freeze offers 
diminishing returns. He said the steps or "concessions" the 
GOI has taken thus far have been devalued because they were 
made outside the context of negotiations -- "give us 
context," he said. In that regard, Dermer stated 
categorically that the GOI will not make any more concessions 
to Abu Mazen in order to return to negotiations -- "that is 
over." He asked what steps the PA has taken to return to the 
negotiating table, and dismissed Palestinian progress in the 
security sector as simply efforts to preserve Fatah's power. 

10. (S) Dermer said that while Netanyahu is ready to engage 
at any time, the Israeli public is skeptical regarding the 
benefits of returning to negotiations with the Palestinians. 
He noted that it would be "extremely difficult" for Netanyahu 
to approach the Cabinet at this point regarding negotiations 
when all the GOI has received in return for its efforts was a 
"slap-down from the international community" following the 
Goldstone Report. 

11. (S) Dermer said Netanyahu does not believe Abu Mazen is 
as weak as he claims, and that Abu Mazen has the potential to 
"rise to the occasion" in negotiating peace. However, he 
said Abu Mazen must make some sort of gesture to return to 
the table and "prepare his people" for the difficult 
decisions necessary for peace. Seemingly simple steps such 
as employing new language or condemning violence and 
terrorism -- something the GOI believes Abu Mazen has not 
done since 2003 -- would be very appreciated, Dermer said. 

12. (U) The staffdel cleared this cable. 
CUNNINGHAM