Non-Political Israeli Officials Take Charge of Urgent Policy Business with Washington

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debkafile‘s US sources reveal that, this week, Israeli military and intelligence circles informed their opposite numbers in Washington that there is no vacuum in the management of vital issues and it is ongoing despite the crisis tying the hands of Israeli government leaders, prime minister Ehud Olmert, defense minister Amir Peretz and foreign minister Tzipi Livni, in the aftermath of a critical war report.
This was the first confirmation by senior Bush administration sources that they are working with non-political Israeli circles on urgent and critical affairs and leaving the Olmert government outside policy-making in Washington.
Those Israeli circles have voiced their deep concern over the Bush administration’s inclination to meet Iran halfway on the nuclear question. debkafile‘s sources reveal that Washington is considering a compromise that will let Iran continue uranium enrichment against guarantees never to produce weapons-grade fuel or develop a nuclear weapon.
Israel military and intelligence experts have warned the administration that Iran is up to its old tricks of handing out promises it has no intention of keeping. Since this warning appears to be falling on deaf ears, they have asked for a quick and clear decision on the Iranian question. They fear that if it is delayed, the US withdrawal from Iraq in late summer of this year will catch Israel – and the rest of the Middle East – in the grip of two major crises: the dispute with Iran will either be settled or flare, American troops will be in the process of quitting Iraq – and both events may be exploited by Syria, Hizballah, Hamas and Jihad Islami for offensive operations against Israel.
Israel will then face a multiple threat without due preparation.
The US is therefore asked to reach a decision on Iran in the next couple of months before the onset of its pullout from Iraq.
Washington’s Israeli contacts did not spell out the reaction they planned to a US-Iranian deal entailing concessions to Tehran on the nuclear question, perhaps because no one in Jerusalem is in a fit state for a balanced decision. But they inferred that the Israeli military option against Iran was not off the table.
debkafile learns that US Vice President Dick Cheney will shortly be visiting Saudi Arabia and Jordan to discuss two main subjects:
1. The volume and type of US military assistance for the two kingdom to help them absorb the buffeting from the US exit from Iraq and stand up to any military threat from Iran.
2. To pick up the pieces of the disappointing foreign policy tactic led by US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, which hinged on the formation of a moderate American-Arab axis for reining in Iran to be led and brokered by Saudi Arabia.
On March 2, 2007, DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s Middle East experts reported that Rice’s policy was built on shifting sands. Here are some excerpts from the article
Washington Can Trust Saudi Mediation – But Only for the Short Term
Saudi Arabia’s performance as diplomatic middleman tends to peak when oil revenues are high. Abdullah’s Middle East peace plan finally debuted in 2001 and was adopted with revisions by the 2002 Beirut Arab summit. It then gathered dust for five years. But then, when oil prices soared and the royal coffers overflowed with oil revenues, Abdullah swung into action against the rising threat posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its contributions to the vicious violence in Iraq, Lebanese instability and Syrian intransigence.
Saudi initiatives may have conveyed the impression of dramatic audacity. In practice, they boiled down to handling the Iranian threat by the classical methods favored by Saudi rulers of dialogue and engagement, fueled by oceans of petrodollars to reward those in tune with their goals.
In the short term, Riyadh’s mediation efforts may work, but their long-term sustainability is problematic. There is no guarantee that oil prices will stay as high as they have been in the last two years; and Saudi diplomacy tends to fade away when oil prices sink. End of quote from DEBKA-Net-Weekly
debkafile adds: The outcome of the Rice initiative was unfortunate; instead of the promised moderate Arab bloc allied with Washington, the Saudis have moved over and joined the radical camp of Iran, Syria and the Palestinian Hamas. Riyadh maintains in its defense that this alignment will wean Syrian president Bashar Assad and Hamas’ hardline Khaled Meshaal from their ties with Tehran. That is something Cheney will have to sort out.
Jerusalem is too engrossed in political antics for keeping Olmert and Peretz afloat in the face of popular disaffection to heed the course of events among Israel’s neighbors. Ignorant of those events, Olmert and Peretz still cling to the illusory windows of opportunity for peace which they believed had opened up in Damascus and Riyadh at the last Arab summit in late March.
For this reason, military and intelligence officials have taken matters in their own hands to make sure that the most pressing issues with Washington were attended to without further delay.

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