JERUSALEM (JTA) — The secret documents released by WikiLeaks will not negatively affect Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
Israeli leaders can feel comfortable with what was revealed in the first batch of documents made public Sunday, Netanyahu said, because there is very little difference between what they said in private discussions with United States leaders and what they told their citizens.
"Usually there is a gap between what is said in public and what is said in private, but regarding Israel this gap is not large," he said Sunday afternoon. "Regarding other countries, the gaps are extremely large."
The documents did show that what many Arab leaders said privately and publicly, particularly on the subject of Iran, was significantly different. For example, many Arab leaders called on the United States, in some cases repeatedly, to attack Iran.
"More and more countries realize that Iran is the central threat, but the countries in the region have a gap because they publicly are attached to the Israeli-Arab conflict but privately they realize that this narrative is not true," Netanyahu said Sunday during a speech before an editors’ conference in Tel Aviv. "They realize that the central threat is from Iran and now this has been revealed even though it was known.
"It can eliminate the theory that Israel is the obstacle to peace and show that we have mutual interests."
The United States briefed several of its allies on the documents over the weekend. Israel already had been told by the U.S. last week that it could be mentioned in the release of classified U.S. documents.
The WikiLeaks website, which publishes classified documents from anonymous sources and leaks, released about 250,000 secret diplomatic cables on Sunday.
Netanyahu said he was not told in advance the specifics of what was said in the documents.
State Department legal adviser Harold Koh released a letter to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange saying that the publication of the documents is illegal and demanding a halt to their publication.
The publication of the documents will "place at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals," ”place at risk on-going military operations" and "place at risk on-going cooperation between countries," the letter reportedly said.
The letter called on WikiLeaks to return the documents to the United States and destroy any copies.