WikiLeaks: extent of US-Israel ties laid bare
Eyes peeled: Israel warned the US about Hamas in 2005, according to a cable
The early publication of part of the WikiLeaks US State Department cables regarding Israel reveals a startling degree of openness between senior Israeli officials and their American counterparts.
As part of an agreement between WikiLeaks and Israeli newspapers Ha'aretz and Yediot Ahronot, some of the 6,000 cables regarding Israel that the whistleblowing website plans to publish were revealed last weekend.
The cables record detailed accounts of meetings between American politicians and diplomats and the heads of Israel's military security organisations in which the Israelis offered their assessments of developments in the region.
According to the cables, as early as 2005 the heads of Mossad, IDF Military Intelligence, the Israeli Atomic Energy Agency and Shin Bet were warning of the precariousness of the Syrian and Egyptian regimes and of the inherent risks to Israel's security surrounding Hamas's imminent takeover of the Gaza Strip. It emerged that some senior generals actually saw this as a positive development because it allowed Israel to position Gaza as an official enemy state.
Other interesting insights came from former Deputy Director General of the Atomic Energy Agency Ariel Levita, who told the Americans that it would be almost impossible to take out Iran's nuclear programme with a military strike as the various installations were too widely dispersed.
It also emerged that in 2007, long before the outbreak of the current wave of Arab revolutions, former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan identified the Al-Jazeera news channel as "the reason for the next war in the Middle East".
The cables also contained a clutch of revealing quotes from Israeli politicians, such as Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's recommendation that Palestinian financial adviser, Mohammed Rashid, become the next Palestinian Authority president and the admission by chairman of the settlers YESHA Council, Danny Dayan, that many of the settlers would agree to leave their homes in the West Bank in return for appropriate financial compensation.
The breadth and depth of contacts held by the American embassy in Israel is interesting. They include Supreme Court President Judge Dorit Beinisch, who explained to the Americans the rationale behind the court rulings on Palestinian human rights issues; and Trade Union Secretary General, Ofer Eini, who boasted of his powers to "switch off the country".
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gave his first interview to the Israeli media this week. In the article, spread over eight pages in Yediot Ahronot's weekend magazine, Mr Assange denied allegations made in Private Eye last month that he had blamed a cabal of "Jewish" journalists for conspiring against him.