Monday, December 20, 2010

Wikileaks [36]: "..Israel believes that LAF/Hezbollah cooperation is a matter of national policy .."

S E C R E T TEL AVIV 002482

, Assistant Secretary of
Defense (ASD) for International Security Affairs, Ambassador
Alexander Vershbow, met with a number of senior Israeli
defense officials in Israel including: Ministry of Defense
(MOD) Director General (DG) Pinchas Buchris; Head of MOD
Political Military Bureau Amos Gilad; Assistant Chief of
Defense Major General (MG) Benny Gantz; and Head of MOD
Intelligence Analysis Production Brigadier General Yossi
Baidatz....ASD Vershbow's trip to Israel came as a number of
high-level Israeli and American officials were meeting on key
issues. On October 31, Secretary of State Clinton arrived in
Jerusalem for talks on the peace process with Prime Minister
Netanyahu, Defense Minister Barak, and Foreign Minster
Lieberman. In addition, EUCOM Commander Admiral Stavridis
arrived in Israel on November 1 to observe the Juniper
Cobra-10 ballistic missile defense exercise. The ASD's visit
also came in the wake of recent high-level discussions on
Israel's QME in Washington, and the October 21 meeting of the
Joint Politico-Military Group in Tel Aviv.....
¶16. (S) Israeli officials remain pleased with the "quiet"
nature of its northern border -- something they attribute to
the deterrent effect Israel has built up following OPERATION
CAST LEAD and the 2006 war in Lebano. However, according to
Israeli officials, it i a foregone conclusion that strong
cooperation eists between the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF)
and ezbollah. The level of cooperation far exceeds wht
many assume is simply the day-to-day problem of corruption
within the ranks. On the contrary, Israel believes that
LAF/Hezbollah cooperation is a matter of national policy.
Amos Gilad attributed this dynamic to elements of
nationalism, stating that Lebanese government and military
officials choose not to confront Hezbollah out of patriotic
zeal. Moreover, according to Gilad, any information shared
with the United Nations Interim Force-Lebanon (UNIFIL) goes
directly to Hezbollah by way of the LAF.
¶17. (S) Israeli officials have major concerns over
developments within Hezbollah -- specifically, its
relationship with Syria and Iran. General Baidatz spoke of
this relationship and drew attention to the existing supply
of Fateh-110 long-range missile that Iran sent to Syria.
Israeli officials believe these missiles are destined for
Hezbollah. According to Baidatz and others, if the delivery
were to occur, this would significantly alter Israel's
calculus. Under such a scenario, the looming question for
Israeli policymakers then becomes: "to strike or not to
¶18. (S) General Baidatz offered an Israeli intelligence
assessment that if Syria were able to achieve peace with
security and obtain greater U.S. involvement, it may pull
away from Iran's orbit. He explained that President Assad
used his "negative assets," namely Hezbollah and HAMAS, to
make himself relevant and that ultimately Assad wants it all:
the Golan Heights; peace with Israel; better relations with
the U.S.; a strong relationship with Iran; and a continued
relationship with Hezbollah. Ultimately, Gen Baidatz
asserted that if Assad had to choose one thing, it would
likely be peace with Israel. ASD Vershbow asked if Hezbollah
could be sustained without Syrian support. Baidatz
acknowledged the difficulty in answering this question, but
stated his belief that it would be a gradual process before
Hezbollah could completely wean itself from the Syrian
support apparatus and that, ultimately, both Hezbollah's and
Iran's flexibility would be significantly reduced..."

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