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Cablegate: Codel Voinovich Meeting with Prime Minister Olmert

VZCZCXRO0059
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHTV #0203/01 0241507
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 241507Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5138
INFO RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 8917
RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASH DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 000203

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR OREP IS
SUBJECT: Codel Voinovich Meeting with Prime Minister Olmert


1. Summary: On January 2, Codel Voinovich met with Israeli
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the Prime MinisterQs Office
in Jerusalem. Senator Voinovich was accompanied by
Representatives Rob Bishop (R, Utah); Phil Gingrey (R,
Georgia); Steve Pearce (R, New Mexico) and Michael Turner
(R, Ohio) as well as by the Charge and emboff note taker.
The hour long meeting was frank and occasionally
contentious and focused on border issues with Egypt,
housing tenders in East Jerusalem and continued US
support for Israel and the ongoing peace process. End
Summary

2. Senator Voinovich began the meeting by recounting the
last time he saw Olmert in 2001 and lamented the fact
that there had been little progress in the peace process
since then until very recently. Voinovich praised the
current process which he termed as a Qwonderful
opportunityQ for peace and a two state solution. The
senator pointed out that Arab support would be key to any
solution and asked Olmert about Egyptian performance in
safeguarding the border with Gaza. Voinovich pointed out
that Egyptian officials had complained to the Codel about
Israeli officials privately complementing Egyptian
actions in private meetings, but publicly condemning
their actions in the press and going so far to circulate
video recordings in the US Congress of Egyptian border
guards in cahoots with HAMAS elements. Voinovich stated
that the Egyptians were concerned that this would damage
USG assistance to Egypt and was unfair.

3. Olmert pointedly responded by stating that the Egyptians
had Qbetrayed their commitmentsQ under the peace accords
and that the private meetings with the Egyptians had been
far worse than any reported comments in the media.
Olmert denied that the GOI had circulated any video to
Congress and implied that Egyptian border forces where
riddled with corruption and incompetence. Olmert stated
that although the peace accords allowed for as many as
750 troops on the border, the Egyptians could only muster
250 at any one time. Olmert described the smuggling
efforts in Gaza as enormous, including heavy arms,
ammunition and contraband including narcotics.

4. Voinovich pointed out that a recent US Army Corps of
Engineers report indicated that sealing off the Gazan
border from Egypt was far more complex than it seems at
first blush and that the Egyptians were ready to spend up
to 25 million USD to implement the recommendations of the
report. Voinovich asked Olmert if Israel and the US or
European Union could come up with a matrix and what
Egyptian actions would constitute success and that the
three sides would monitor progress together. Olmert
stated that Israel was Qan adultQ and did not need an
Qolder uncleQ to watch out for IsraelQs security
concerns. In fact, responded Olmert, there was already a
bilateral and quadrilateral mechanism in place to do so.
However, Olmert did indicate a willingness to consider a
trilateral framework for addressing the matter. NOTE:
Olmert was apparently referring to General DaytonQs four
way monitoring group which has not met since the HAMAS
takeover of the Gaza.

5. Moving onto settlement and outpost activities, Olmert
stated that he had given the order that no additional
private land would be expropriated and any expansion on
the West Bank would have to be directly approved by his
office. Responding to the Codel, Olmert explained that
this did not apply to the municipality of Jerusalem or
Qnatural growth of built up areas.Q Olmert stated that
both the Palestinians and the US Administration were
familiar with the GOIQs position on settlements and that
any Palestinian posturing on this issue was simply a
negotiating tactic. Olmert summed up that Har Homa and
other expansion in the municipality of Jerusalem was an
insignificant issue. Far more pressing stated Olmert was
the killing of two off duty I DF soldiers, apparently by
terrorists associated with Palestinian Authority security
forces. Olmert pointed out that as a result of the
murders, there was an outcry for the suspension of talks,
but he (Olmert) had no intention of doing so.

6. Responding to questions from other members of the Codel,
Olmert stated that there was no humanitarian crisis in
the Gaza strip, but that he was, Qunder no obligation to
make my enemies life any easier.Q Olmert recounted the
constant bombardment of Qassam missiles and infiltrators
coming from Gaza and that several crossing points were
open six days a week to allow Gazans with humanitarian
needs to enter Israel. Olmert added that there were no
restrictions on humanitarian assistance, and that over
13,000 truckloads of private sector and NGO commodities

TEL AVIV 00000203 002 OF 002


have crossed into Gaza since the HAMAS takeover last
June. When questioned on PA President AbbasQ public
comments concerning IDF actions in Gaza, Olmert stated
that the comments were for public consumption and that in
fact, Abbas wanted the IDF to take larger, more
aggressive action against HAMAS and eliminate as many
militants as possible.

7. The meeting also touched on the problems that Israel had
with the National Intelligence Estimate on IranQs nuclear
program and the possibility of opening a dialog with
Syria. Each member of Codel Voinovich concluded with a
firm commitment to Israel and IsraelQs security.

8. This cable has been cleared by Senator Voinovich.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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