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Cablegate: Israeli Fm Livni Meets Codel, Says Fatah Cannot Overtake

VZCZCXYZ3677
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #0501/01 0641303
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 041303Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5666
INFO RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 3737
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 1712
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 4263
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 3517
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 9206

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000501

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KPAL KWBG IS IR
SUBJECT: ISRAELI FM LIVNI MEETS CODEL, SAYS FATAH CANNOT OVERTAKE
HAMAS IN GAZA


-------
SUMMARY
-------

1.(SBU) On Monday, February 18, CODELs Kyl and Brownback met with
Israel Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni at the Knesset to hear Israeli
perspectives on Iran and the peace process. Livni spoke at length
regarding the challenges posed by Hamas, most significantly noting
that the organization's function as a social movement with broad
popular support now poses as great a threat to Israeli security as
the organization's terrorist activities. Livni assessed that while
there was once hope that Fatah could win back Gaza, this possibility
is unlikely in the near future. End Summary.

----
IRAN
----

2. (SBU) On Monday, February 18, CODELs Kyl and Brownback met with
Israel Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni at the Knesset to hear Israeli
perspectives on Iran and the peace process. Livni observed that the
world is increasingly divided between the forces of extremism and
moderation, and suggested that Israel is too often the victim of
extremists, specifically naming Iran and Hizballah in that category.
Livni went on to note that for the first time in years, more
moderate Arab countries are recognizing that Iran poses a threat to
their own security, and consequently they find themselves in the
"strange place" of sharing a position with Israel. She suggested
that this may be a factor in the Arab countries' hesitation to
confront Iran, and may have caused the perception in the Arab world
that engagement with Iran on the nuclear issue is a sign of
weakness. Livni concluded with the observation that this is a
"crucial moment" to confront the Iranians, and that a failure to do
so may result in the international community's tacit acceptance of
an Iranian nuclear power.

--------------
HAMAS AND GAZA
--------------

3. (SBU) Livni asserted that the division between extremists and
moderates is also a battle being fought within Palestinian society.
She remarked that in Gaza, Hamas operates not only as a terrorist
organization, but also as a social movement that educates children,
pays salaries, and provides welfare services. To the extent that
these efforts have won the loyalty of the Palestinian population,
Livni argued, the Hamas social movement poses as great a threat to
Israeli security as the organization's Qassam rocket attacks and
terror activities.

4. (SBU) Livni attributed the increased danger of Qassam rocket
attacks from Gaza to the failure of Egypt to secure the Gaza-Egypt
border, noting that more weapons with greater range capabilities are
now flowing into Gaza and enabling Hamas to hit a wider range of
targets inside Israel. Livni opined that while there was once hope
that Fatah could win back Gaza, she no longer believes this is
possible in the near term. While she was careful to note that
Israel has not intended to reoccupy Gaza, Livni tacitly suggested
that this is becoming a possibility. She argued that the focus now
must be to stop the influx of weaponry into Gaza, both to enhance
Israeli security and to avoid being further disadvantaged if at some
point Israeli forces must go back in.

---------------------------------------
PEACE PROCESS AND PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD
---------------------------------------

5. (SBU) With respect to the peace process, Livni articulated a
"dual strategy" for advancing the political process, characterized
by trying to come to an agreement with President Mahmoud Abbas, who
has accepted Israel's right to exist, while simultaneously isolating
Hamas and acting against terrorist threats. In the past, Livni
observed, Israel has demanded that all terrorist activity be halted
and Roadmap Phase One requirements be met before undertaking any
negotiations. She noted that this changed at Annapolis, when Israel
decided to move forward in negotiations with the understanding that
any future agreement would be subject to the implementation of
stipulations articulated in the Roadmap. Livni highlighted Israel's
desire to keep negotiations private and out of the public arena,
noting that this is important to the process and has been successful
thus far.

6. (SBU) With regard to a future Palestinian state, Livni pointedly
noted that Israel cannot afford to have a terrorist state or a
failed state on its borders, and suggested this is one reason why
Israel decided not to launch a full attack on Lebanon in the summer

2006 war. Livni remarked that Israeli approval of Palestinian
borders would depend on assurances that the Palestinian state remain
demilitarized and that its establishment secure an absolute end to
all Palestinian claims against Israel. In this context, Livni
articulated Israel's opposition to Palestinian "right of return,"
suggesting that any compromise on this issue would only provide a
loophole for further conflict.

---------------
ROLE OF THE U.S.
----------------

7. (SBU) Livni emphasized the importance of understanding between
the U.S. and Israel, and remarked that Israel needs U.S. support to
negotiate an agreement that will protect and secure Israel in both
the short and long term. She was careful to note that Israel needs
to be in control of the process and not be pressured by the U.S. or
any international community actors. She asked that the U.S.
continue to stand with Israel and be willing "to say to the
Palestinians, at some point, 'no more.'"

8. (U) CODEL Kyl cleared on this cable.

JONES

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