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Cable on Meeting with Albright Prompts Flap for Israeli Diplomat

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A leaked Israeli diplomatic cable has opened a row between Israel’s ambassador to the United States and the State Department.

Yediot Achronot, Israel’s largest-circulation daily newspaper, published a top- secret cable from Eliahu Ben-Elissar to Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister David Levy detailing a June 10 meeting with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

“I’m the last person who will defend Arafat,” Albright said according to the cable. “He’s done a few things lately that are really unforgivable. But what’s the alternative?”

In the cable, Ben-Elissar wrote: “And in the end I told the secretary, `Both Arafat and you know the truth that we’re not erecting settlements at all and aren’t even expanding them.’

“Here Albright gave me a sideways look with a smile as if to say, `Come on, really;’ I withdrew a little from that formulation and said, `Almost not.’ In fact I don’t know how much we’re really building and expanding,” Yediot reported.

State Department officials were furious that the cable was leaked and at the tone of the report.

This flap comes only two months after Ben-Elissar drew the wrath of U.S. Special Middle East Envoy Dennis Ross for telling Israeli reporters about the details of one of their conversations.

Yediot quoted a U.S. official saying that Albright would think twice before meeting again with Ben-Elissar.

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