JERUSALEM: Washington has warned its ally Israel of potential embarrassment from the expected release of US diplomatic cables on whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, an Israeli newspaper said on Thursday.
A senior Israeli official, quoted in Haaretz, said it has been informed that WikiLeaks plans to release hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables, some of which could include confidential reports from the US embassy in Tel Aviv.
"The Americans said they view the leak very seriously," he told the paper, on condition of anonymity.
"They don’t know when they will be released on the Internet and what exactly they say, but they didn’t want us to read about it in the newspapers," the Israeli official said.
Embassy spokesman Kurt Hoyer, contacted by AFP, declined to comment except to say that such leaks could put lives at risk.
"The cables date from the past five years and include media reports, talks with politicians, government officials and journalists, as well as evaluations and various analyses by American diplomats regarding their host countries," according to Haaretz.
Yigor Palmor, spokesman for Israel’s foreign ministry, said the ministry did not comment in public on diplomatic exchanges.
The State Department said on Wednesday that US embassies around the world had "begun the process of informing governments that a release of documents is possible in the near future."
"These revelations… are going to create tensions on our relationships between our diplomats and our friends around the world," said State Department spokesman Philip Crowley.
WikiLeaks has not said what will be contained in its coming release, indicating only it will be "seven times" the Iraq War logs in which it posted 400,000 secret documents.
Meanwhile, ambassador James Jeffrey said on Friday that WikiLeaks is an "absolutely awful" obstacle to conducting diplomacy and the US embassy is worried about the threatened release of more classified documents.
His remarks came just days after the whistleblower website promised to publish nearly three million secret files in its third such release since July, without saying when it would do so or what they contained.
"We are worried about additional documents coming out," Jeffrey told reporters at an embassy briefing.
"WikiLeaks are an absolutely awful impediment to my business, which is to be able to have discussions in confidence with people. I do not understand the motivation for releasing these documents. They will not help, they will simply hurt our ability to do our work here."
Asked what Iraqi officials had said to him about the release of the documents, Jeffrey replied: "They clearly are very unhappy… anybody who has confidential discussions, who finds these confidential discussions find their way into the press, is going to be very unhappy and very upset."
WikiLeaks has not said what will be contained in its forthcoming release, saying only that there would be "seven times" as many secret documents as the 400,000 it posted in the Iraq War logs.
A new posting would mark WikiLeaks’ third mass release of classified documents after it published 77,000 secret US files on the Afghan conflict in July.
WikiLeaks argues the release of the documents — US soldier-authored incident reports from 2004 to 2009 — has shed light on the wars, including allegations of torture by Iraqi forces and reports that suggested 15,000 additional civilian deaths in Iraq.
Its announcement on Monday came just days after Sweden issued an international arrest warrant for the website’s head, Julian Assange of Australia, wanted for questioning over rape and sexual molestation allegations.