S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 TEL AVIV 000936
H PASS TO CODEL KYL
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/14/2019
TAGS: PREL PTER PGOV KNNP KWBG IR IS
SUBJECT: CODEL KYL'S MEETING WITH PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:
WHAT WILL THE U.S. DO ABOUT IRAN?
Classified By: Ambassador James B. Cunningham, Reason 1.4 (b) (d)
¶1. (S) Summary. CODEL Kyl, accompanied by the Ambassador,
called on Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu April 6 in the
first official U.S. meeting with Netanyahu since he formed a
government. The main topics of discussion were stopping
Iran's nuclear program and Netanyahu's approach to
peace-making with the Palestinians. On Iran, Senator Kyl
raised ways to increase the effect of sanctions, including
possible legislation targeting Iranian imports of refined
petroleum. Adopting a forceful stance, Netanyahu asked
repeatedly what the U.S. plans to do if sanctions and
engagement fail to stop Iran's program. Calling Iran's
development of a nuclear bomb a world-changing event,
Netanyahu said all other issues become insignificant by
comparison. On the Palestinians, Netanyahu reviewed his
intent to pursue a three-track approach with political,
economic, and security aspects. While noting that his
government is conducting a review of Israeli policy toward
the Palestinians, Netanyahu asserted that there is agreement
within the government and among 80% of Israelis that the
Palestinians should be able to rule themselves, but with
limits imposed by Israel's security requirements. Netanyahu
said the only difference between his position and that of
opposition leader Tzipi Livni is over the name of the goal,
i.e. the two-state solution. In response to comments by
Senator Sessions that the Palestinian Authority needs
functioning courts and jails as well as police, Netanyahu
agreed but said he had not yet focused much on Palestinian
governance issues. Netanyahu said he wants to show the
Palestinians the benefits of peace, but with the proviso that
if Iran goes nuclear, peace will fail. Predicting that his
government would pleasantly surprise many critics, Netanyahu
concluded that he hopes to come up with a common approach
with President Obama. End Summary.
¶2. (U) CODEL Kyl, consisting of Senator Jon Kyl (R, AZ);
Senator Jeff Sessions (R, AL); Representative Jane Harman (D,
CA); Representative John Kline (R, MN); and Representative
Chris Carney (D, PA), called on Prime Minister Benyamin
Netanyahu April 6. The Ambassador, Congressional staff, and
Pol Couns (notetaker) participated in the meeting. Netanyahu
was joined by National Security Adviser Uzi Arad, Spokesman
Mark Regev, Policy Adviser Ron Dermer, former chairman of the
Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Kadima MK
Tzachi Hanegbi (Senator's Kyl's counterpart in the
U.S.-Israel Joint Parliamentary Committee on National
Security), and the Israeli Embassy in Washington's
Congressional liaison officer. The meeting was the first
official U.S. face to face contact with Netanyahu since he
formed his government.
What Will the U.S. Do About Iran?
¶3. (S) After a brief discussion of the world economic crisis,
Senator Kyl raised Iran, noting the "sobering" briefings the
CODEL had received from senior Israeli defense and
intelligence officials the previous day. Kyl said the
Congress is looking at legislation that would target Iran's
imports of refined petroleum products, adding that there are
only four or five companies that supply refined petroleum to
Iran and the U.S. has considerable leverage over most of
them. Kyl added that Israeli experts had told the CODEL that
they thought such legislation would be helpful. Netanyahu
said nothing is slowing the progress of Iran's nuclear
program. The Prime Minister asked what will happen to the
Middle East if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon? If such a
prospect is unacceptable, what will the U.S. do as Iran
reaches the nuclear threshold? What will the U.S. do if
Pakistan is taken over by Islamic radicals?
¶4. (S) Representative Harman told Netanyahu that no one in
the CODEL disagreed with his analysis, but the U.S. should
give engagement an opportunity to see if it works. If it
does not, at least it would show the world that the U.S. had
tried. She added that Congress supports engagement on a
bipartisan basis. Senator Kyl added that the Europeans tried
to engage Iran for five years but it did not work. President
Obama will pursue engagement, but Kyl said he doubted it
would be successful. We should consider what to do in the
mean time. Netanyahu responded that the U.S. should move
quickly. Engagement should have a short time limit and a
specific goal, for example talk to the Iranians for four to
twelve weeks and make clear that the U.S. goal is an end to
their nuclear program. Leaning forward, Netanyahu repeated
his earlier question: "What will you do if it does not work?"
TEL AVIV 00000936 002 OF 003
¶5. (S) Netanyahu said that learning to live with a nuclear
Iran would be a big mistake which would lead to a different,
more dangerous world. While he noted that he could not say
for certain that Iran would use a nuclear weapon against
Israel, if Iran had a bomb Israelis would have to ask that
question every day. This is a historic moment, and leaders
have a responsibility to make decisions. All other issues
are insignificant by comparison. For a third time, Netanyahu
asked, "What are you going to do?"
Netanyahu's Approach to the Palestinians
¶6. (C) Senator Kyl asked the Prime Minister about his view of
the two-state solution. Netanyahu said he plans to engage
the Palestinian Authority quickly and will not tie political
talks with the Palestinians to developments with Iran.
Reviewing a now familiar formula, Netanyahu said he will
approach the Palestinians on parallel political, economic and
security tracks. Political talks would aim at achieving an
agreement within certain limits, the economic approach would
promote foreign and Arab investment and joint projects with
Israeli partners, while the security track would continue to
build up the PA's security forces. In order to do any of
this, Netanyahu noted, he will need a Palestinian partner.
¶7. (C) Representative Harman observed that the CODEL had
visited units of the PA's National Security Forces and the
Presidential Guard. PA Prime Minister Fayyad said he was
happy with the PA's security forces, and they want to take on
increased responsibility for security in Jericho and Jenin.
Netanyahu replied that Israel would be happy to let them do
more, but it is not clear what Hamas will do next. If Hamas
forces a confrontation, Israel will have to initiate further
military action in Gaza. Israel did not want to go back into
Gaza, but it will do what is necessary to protect its people.
¶8. (C) Netanyahu said his government is reviewing Israel's
policy toward the Palestinians. There is a consensus in the
government and among 80% of the Israeli public that the
Palestinians should be able to govern themselves. The only
limits on Palestinian sovereignty would be elements that
affect Israel's security. A Palestinian state must be
demilitarized, without control over its air space and
electro-magnetic field, and without the power to enter into
treaties or control its borders. Netanyahu concluded that he
and opposition leader Tzipi Livni "only disagree about the
name," i.e. the two-state solution.
¶9. (C) Senator Sessions noted that people everywhere want law
and order. Palestinians not only need to deal with
terrorism, they also need a functioning legal system. Moving
from a lawless system, the Palestinian Authority is showing
some pride, but police are not enough, they need courts and
jails that work. Economic development is impossible in a
lawless society. Netanyahu agreed this was a valid point and
uncharacteristically admitted that he had not focused much on
Palestinian governance. He added that international
assistance should provide funding for jails and courts. It
is possible to create crime-free zones and begin economic
development "in bubbles" which would then be expanded.
Senator Sessions noted that Lt. General Dayton is focused on
this issue. Representative Harman commented that "bubbles"
in the West Bank would not be enough, Palestinians need law
and order everywhere.
¶10. (C) Netanyahu said the "classic rhetoric" of the peace
process has been that if Israel withdraws, all will be well.
Now, however, if Israel withdrew from the West Bank, Hamas
would take over. Economic development would not be a
substitute for a political settlement, but it would change
the environment and show Palestinians the benefits of peace.
Israel has been trying to "build a roof without a foundation"
and it has not worked. Netanyahu said there was one proviso:
If Iran gets a nuke, peace efforts will fail.
¶11. (C) Netanyahu pointed to the example of Jordanian King
Hussein, whom he termed Israel's best Arab ally and a man
deeply committed to peace. Yet when Saddam Hussein took
Kuwait, King Hussein got on board with the Iraqis. In the
event of a nuclear Iran, "all the Arabs will become Qatar."
We should therefore move in parallel to work for peace with
the Palestinians while acting to stop Iran. Netanyahu said
he thought his government would pleasantly surprise many of
its critics. He concluded the meeting by saying that he
wants to coordinate Israel's positions with the U.S. and
hopes to come to a common position with President Obama.
TEL AVIV 00000936 003 OF 003
¶12. (U) CODEL Kyl has cleared this cable.
Visit Embassy Tel Aviv's Classified Website:
December 16, 2010
Netanyahu and Iran