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Cablegate: Palestinian Officials Tell Codel Voinovich Pa Is

VZCZCXRO0315
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHJM #0125 0241446
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 241446Z JAN 08
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0330
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS JERUSALEM 000125

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NEA FOR FRONT OFFICE; NEA/IPA FOR GOLDBERGER, SHAMPAINE,
BELGRADE; NSC FOR ABRAMS/SINGH/PASCUAL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV ECON IS KWBG
SUBJECT: PALESTINIAN OFFICIALS TELL CODEL VOINOVICH PA IS
READY TO MANAGE GAZA CROSSINGS


1. (SBU) Summary: Senator George Voinovich (R-OH),
accompanied by Representatives Phil Gingrey (R-OH), Rob
Bishop (R-UT), Steve Pearce (R-NM), and Michael Turner
(R-OH), met separately on January 6 with Palestinian
Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Foreign Minister
Riad Maliki. Maliki told the CODEL that the current
Palestinian Authority (PA) government, guided by principles
of good governance, represents a break with the past. Both
officials said the PA is ready to manage Gaza crossing
points. Fayyad asserted that GoI sanctions on Gaza benefit
Hamas, enabling it to control and tax tunnel traffic between
Gaza and Egypt. Fayyad told the CODEL that budget support is
the PA's top assistance priority. End summary.

Maliki: Gaza Must be Recovered
--------------------------------

2. (SBU) Maliki told CODEL Voinovich that PM Fayyad's
government has "clearly split" with prior Palestinian
governments by concentrating on good governance,
anti-corruption, and transparency. Developing a market
economy driven by the private sector and developing civil
society are top government priorities, said Maliki.

3. (SBU) Maliki said the West Bank and Gaza are "integral
parts" of a future Palestinian state, and Gaza "has to be
recovered," but not by force. Instead, he said the PA needs
to make the West Bank a positive example for Gazans to
follow, thereby putting pressure on Hamas. Maliki also said
the PA is ready to manage the Palestinian side of the Gaza
crossing points, giving the PA a toehold in the territory and
undercutting Hamas controlled smuggling traffic through the
tunnels between Gaza and Egypt.

PM Fayyad: Gaza Sanctions Reinforce Hamas Control
--------------------------------------------- ------

4. (SBU) PA Fayyad told the CODEL that the lack of a
coherent border crossing system for Gaza empowers Hamas. For
example, he continued, Hamas scored significant political
points by arranging for Hajj pilgrims to exit Gaza through
the Rafah crossing point to Egypt. Fayyad said the PA,
coordinating with Israel, can manage the crossings in a
straightforward, transparent way. Sanctions, he continued,
"don't make sense" because Hamas, which controls and taxes
the tunnel trade, profits from them. Fayyad said that if
Israeli agrees to PA management of the crossings, Hamas would
have "two choices, both bad" -- reject the proposal and lose
credibility with the suffering Gazan population, or accept it
and give the PA an entree into Gaza.

Budget Support Top Assistance Priority
----------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Asked by Senator Voinovich about PA assistance
priorities, Fayyad responded that budget support comes first,
followed by support for projects outlined in the Palestinian
Reform and Development Plan (PRDP). Implementation of the
PRDP would bring about a "major transformation of our
economy," said Fayyad. He said GoI access and movement
restrictions in the West Bank will hinder project
implementation, but he foresaw no easing until PA security
improves. Fayyad said the PA is "determined to do what we
need to do" on the security front, adding that he is "tired
of the skepticism" about PA capabilities. Better security
performance will lead to better economic performance, said
Fayyad, concluding that the West Bank's 4 billion USD economy
could double if obstacles to access and movement are removed.


6. (U) CODEL Voinovich has cleared this cable.

WALLES

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