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Cablegate: Lebanon: Council Divisions Harden On Unscr 1701

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DE RUCNDT #0222/01 0711518
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 111518Z MAR 08
FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3881
INFO RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 USUN NEW YORK 000222

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PTER KPKO UNSC SY IS LE
SUBJECT: LEBANON: COUNCIL DIVISIONS HARDEN ON UNSCR 1701
IMPLEMENTATION AMIDST LEBANESE POLITICAL CRISIS

1. (SBU) Summary. During closed UNSC consultations on March
10, senior UN Secretariat officials reported that the
continuing Lebanese political crisis had blocked meaningful
progress on UNSCR 1701 implementation. They praised
continued UNIFIL-LAF cooperation; noted the significant
increase in Israeli overflights which they said violated
UNSCR 1701 and undermined the GOL, LAF and UNIFIL; and
reported that recent Israeli information on cluster bombs in
south Lebanon is of "very limited value" and does not/not
satisfy the SYG's request for detailed strike data. Although
UNIFIL General Graziano did not brief member states, he did
respond to questions. He praised the LAF, although he noted
its need for assistance; lauded the tripartite mechanism
between the UN, LAF, and IDF; and expressed hope that Israel
would soon accept UNIFIL's new plan to facilitate IDF
withdrawal from the northern part of the village of Ghajar
(which is north of the Blue Line and in Lebanese territory).
In his intervention, Amb Khalilzad expressed concern about
Syrian obstruction of the Lebanese presidential election and
decried continuing political assassinations. He expressed
deep concern about illegal arms transfers from Syria into
Lebanon, called on Hizballah to disarm, and for border
delineation between the two countries. He also welcomed a
follow-on mission by LIBAT and criticized Hizballah for its
failure to provide any information about the abducted Israeli
soldiers.

2. (SBU) Summary cont'd. Although all other delegations
called for an early resolution to Lebanon's political crisis,
Russia criticized the U.S. naval deployment near Lebanon as a
"negative" example of foreign interference in Lebanese
affairs. Despite Israeli charges of UNIFIL negligence in the
face of Hizballah re-armament in south Lebanon, nearly all
delegations voiced general support for UNIFIL, and several
member states expressed satisfaction with the situation in
south Lebanon. The issue of reported illegal arms transfers
from Syria to Lebanon generated the most controversy during
the consultations. Although European delegations expressed
concern about violations of the arms embargo, Libya, South
Africa, and Russia attacked the veracity of Israel's
allegations and directly or indirectly criticized the
Secretariat for including them in the SYG's report. Several

SIPDIS
delegations, including Russia, did support a follow-on visit
by LIBAT. Most delegations explicitly called on Israel to
cease its overflights of Lebanon and criticized Hizballah for
its failure to provide proof of life or release the abducted
Israeli soldiers. Many delegations called on Israel to
withdraw from Ghajar and to provide the SYG with the required
information on cluster bombs immediately. Discussion of the
Sheba'a Farms was muted, with European delegations calling
for greater progress on the issue, and South Africa and Libya
repeating old arguments about Israeli occupation of the area.
On next steps, DPA Under Secretary-General Pascoe said the UN
is waiting to hear the reaction of the GOL and GOI to the
UN's provisional geographical definition. End Summary.

3. (SBU) COMMENT AND ACTION REQUEST: After assessing the
consultations, the French delegation shared with USUN and the
UK Mission a draft of a Presidential Statement (PRST) on
UNSCR 1701, to be issued as soon as possible. (Note:
E-mailed to IO/UNP, NEA/ELA, and L. End Note.) Based on the
conflicting views of the situation presented during the
consultations, the French proposed that the PRST be as short
as possible, and reaffirm the importance of full
implementation of UNSCR 1701 and Council support for UNIFIL.
The French did not/not address the specific issues of UNSCR
1701 -- illegal arms transfers, disarmament, overflights,
cluster bombs, Sheba'a -- expecting that Council delegations
would deadlock over how to characterize these issues. USUN
shares the French assessment that we are highly unlikely to
reach agreement on a comprehensive PRST, and recommends
favorable consideration of the French draft.

Secretariat Laments Lebanese Political Crisis

SIPDIS
---------------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Briefing the Council at the start of consultations,
DPA U/SYG Pascoe and DPKO A/SYG Mulet reported that the
continuing Lebanese political crisis had blocked meaningful
progress on UNSCR 1701 implementation. (Note: Transcripts of
their remarks were e-mailed to IO, NEA, and L. End Note.)
Although they said the prevailing calm in south Lebanon was a
"major success," especially in light of the increased burden
on the LAF across the country, they warned that this
"relative calm" is still threatened by hostile elements.
Despite bellicose rhetoric from Hizballah, Pascoe expressed
hope that recent statements by the group that it does not
want war with Israel are sincere, but said actions on the
ground must match words. Turning to UNIFIL issues, Mulet

USUN NEW Y 00000222 002 OF 004


said UNIFIL and the LAF have established at least two
co-located checkpoints along the Litani river, and plan soon
to operate them 24 hours a day. He decried the 282 Israeli
overflights in February (compared to 40-50 per month over the
past year) as violations of UNSCR 1701. In a view echoed by
many delegations, Mulet said the overflights undermined the
authority of the GOL, LAF, and UNIFIL. While Mulet noted
that the IDF had recently provided new information on cluster
bombs in south Lebanon, he said they were of "very limited
value," and repeated the SYG's request for detailed strike
data. On LIBAT, Pascoe said the Secretariat is now
discussing terms of reference for a follow-on visit with PM
Siniora, but suggested the team would focus on assessing
Lebanon,s border management capacity and put forward
additional ideas to implement LIBAT recommendations.

5. (SBU) Although UNIFIL Force Commander General Graziano did
not brief Council members, he did respond to questions at the
end of the briefing. Recalling that UNIFIL's "end state" is
to strengthen the LAF so it can manage without international
assistance, he praised the force, suggesting that "no other
army could have done better in the situation." He called for
member state assistance to the LAF, and said he would report
his assessment of specific LAF needs to UNSC Ambassadors in
Beirut, noting the force is short of food, fuel, ammunition,
and training. On overflights, Graziano recalled that
although he always tells the IDF that overflights are
violations of UNSCR 1701 and cannot be justified by
reconnaissance needs -- especially the recent overflights by
fighter planes -- the IDF always insists that it will
continue its overflights until the two abducted soldiers are
released and its security needs are addressed. Graziano
praised the tripartite mechanism, noting that the three sides
meet monthly and seem to treat the meetings with importance,
and that the exchanges appear to have increased mutual trust.
But he lamented lack of progress on Ghajar, noting that it
is a "very sensitive" issue and that Israel's continued
occupation of the northern part of the village is a violation
of UNSCR 1701. Graziano said UNIFIL had developed a new
proposal to resolve the issue, in which the IDF would
withdraw and UNIFIL would police the town, and the LAF would
not enter it until the three sides had agreed on the
necessary details. He said the GOL had accepted the new
UNIFIL plan and expressed hope that Israel would soon do the
same.

U.S. Highlights Arms Transfers and Disarmament
--------------------------------------------- -

6. (SBU) Amb Khalilzad expressed concern that Syria and its
allies were using preconditions to block presidential
elections in Lebanon, and noted that until a new president
takes office, the U.S. fully supports the legitimate and
democratically-elected GOL. He decried the continuing
targeted attacks in Lebanon over the past three months,
including the attack against the Embassy Beirut vehicle.
Turning to UNSCR 1701 implementation, Amb Khalilzad
reiterated deep concern about illegal arms transfers across
the Syrian-Lebanese border, recalled Hizballah's statements
that it has re-armed, and underscored the need for the
disarmament of all militia in Lebanon. He called on Syria
and Iran to respect the arms embargo in UNSCR 1701.
Expressing concern about PFLP-GC and Fatah al-Intifada
positions along the Syrian-Lebanese border, Amb Khalilzad
called for full border delineation between the two countries.
He welcomed the SYG's proposal to send the LIBAT team back
to Lebanon, commended UNIFIL for its efforts to carry out its
mandate, and called for greater international support to the
LAF. Amb Khalilzad also urged greater trilateral efforts on
Ghajar, unexploded ordnance in south Lebanon, and the marking
of the Blue Line. He decried Hizballah's refusal to provide
any information about the abducted Israeli soldiers and
called for their immediate and unconditional release.

Elections: Support for Arab League and GOL
------------------------------------------

7. (SBU) Despite universal calls for an early resolution to
Lebanon's political crisis, member states offered different
opinions on the nature of foreign interference in the
electoral process. Several delegations, including France,
the UK, Croatia, Burkina Faso called for immediate elections,
expressed support for the Arab League plan, and underscored
their support for the "legitimate" GOL under PM Siniora until
a new president takes office. The UK and Croatia criticized
Syria for obstructing the electoral process and called on the
Syrian Government to support a consensus Lebanese president.
Russia, however, argued that Lebanon's political crisis could
be resolved only by the Lebanese themselves without any

USUN NEW Y 00000222 003 OF 004


foreign interference -- and cited the U.S. naval deployment
off the coast of Lebanon as such an example of a
counter-productive "demonstration of force." Citing the
"negative reaction" by all Lebanese parties, including PM
Siniora, to the U.S. deployment in "Lebanese territorial
waters," Russian PR Churkin said the deployment recalls
difficult historical memories. South Africa said it would be
"imprudent" for any international parties to interfere in
internal Lebanese politics.

South Lebanon: Satisfaction with UNIFIL
---------------------------------------

8. (SBU) Despite Israeli charges of UNIFIL negligence in the
face of Hizballah re-armament in south Lebanon, including an
informal briefing by visiting Israeli officials to Council
members on March 5, nearly all delegations voiced general
support for UNIFIL, and several member states expressed
satisfaction with the situation in south Lebanon. France and
Croatia said they were pleased with the "new strategic
reality" created by UNIFIL in south Lebanon, and praised
LAF-UNIFIL cooperation and joint patrols. But they
criticized recent Hizballah statements, especially those
threatening open war against Israel after the assassination
of Imad Mugniyeh, and argued that the UNSC had an obigation
to respond. Although Italy acknowledged that attacks against
UNIFIL mean there are still unauthorized armed elements in
the AOR, it welcomed comments in the SYG's report that UNIFIL
has found no evidence of new arms or military infrastructure
(introduced after the August 2006 war) in south Lebanon. In
light of Israeli allegations and hostile statements by
Hizballah, Italy called for increased international support
for UNIFIL. Libya expressed regret that the SYG's report had
tried to "blame Lebanon" for the launching of two rockets
against Israel on January 8, 2008, despite a joint LAF-UNIFIL
investigation that showed the "Israeli claims were false."
Libya also argued that IDF allegations about Hizballah
training had not been confirmed.

Arms Transfers: Source of Major Disagreements
---------------------------------------------

9. (SBU) The issue of reported illegal arms transfers from
Syria to Lebanon generated the most controversy during the
consultations. While France called for respect for the arms
embargo in UNSCR 1701, after expressing concern about
Hizballah statements that it has re-armed, the UK and Croatia
went further in criticizing Syria for complicity in these
transfers. Croatia argued that while the GOL should increase
its capacity to control its border, this does not diminish
Syria's responsibility. China said arms transfers merit the
UNSC's attention and took note of the various letters sent to
the Council and the SYG (from Israel, Lebanon, and Syria) in
this regard. Libya, South Africa, and Russia attacked the
veracity of Israel's allegations and directly or indirectly
criticized the Secretariat for including them in the SYG's
report. Describing any arms "smuggling" as simply "criminal"
in nature, Libya said the SYG should treat them the same way
as inadvertent crossings of the Blue Line by shepherds. It
added that neither the GOL nor LIBAT had confirmed any
reports of arms smuggling. South Africa argued that the
reports of illegal arms transfers should have accompanied by
evidence, and criticized the SYG for presenting "mere
allegations" that are detrimental to peace and security in
the region. The South African PermRep further asserted that
Israel raises these allegations, which are then investigated
by the UN and "found to be false." Russia, although it said
it was interested in any information on arms smuggling,
emphasized that the UNSC should work only the basis of
"confirmed data."

LIBAT: Support for a Return Trip
--------------------------------

10. (SBU) Several delegations either took note of or
expressed support for the SYG's intention to send a follow-on
LIBAT mission to Lebanon. In this regard, France said it was
waiting for "gestures from Syria" to fulfill its LIBAT
requirements. Italy and the UK welcomed the good work by the
GOL in implementing its LIBAT recommendations and welcomed a
follow-on mission. Indonesia took note of the SYG's
intention to dispatch a new team. Russia, which argued that
effective border management should be carried out by Lebanon
but that Syria could contribute as well, said it awaits more
information on the border from the new LIBAT team. Indonesia
said it took note of the Secretary-General's views on the
matter.

Overflights: Familiar Criticism

USUN NEW Y 00000222 004 OF 004


-------------------------------

11. (SBU) Nearly all delegations explicitly called on Israel
to cease its overflights of Lebanon, which they said were
undermining UNIFIL's role, and which they characterized as
violations of both Lebanese sovereignty and UNSCR 1701. The
European delegations gave Israel the gentlest treatment, with
the UK, Croatia, and Italy making only passing references
to overflights. France, recalling that the goal is to
strengthen the GOL's control of its territory, expressed
concern that the overflights undermined the GOL. Belgium
called first for their reduction and then their elimination.
Libya criticized the "deliberate, dangerous, and continued
air violations, on a daily basis, including those targeting
UNIFIL." South Africa said violations of UNSCR 1701,
including both overflights and statements by Hizballah
threatening war with Israel, undermine trust and
implementation of the resolution. Russia, Indonesia, and
Vietnam condemned the overflights as affronts to UNIFIL and
UNSCR 1701. Panama asked the Secretariat whether it had
discussed alternatives to overflights with Israel; Graziano
said no.

Ghajar: Calls for Israeli Withdrawal
------------------------------------

12. (SBU) A majority of delegations addressed the issue of
Ghajar, and in so doing, called on Israel to withdraw from
the part of the village in Lebanese territory forthwith.
Belgium emphasized the need to resolve the issue of Ghajar
quickly to demonstrate progress in implementing UNSCR 1701.
Italy suggested that UNIFIL should play an active role in
resolving the issue, possibly by stationing troops there as
an interim measure. Indonesia criticized the "Israeli
occupation" of Ghajar as a violation of UNSCR 1701. Russia
called on Israel to withdraw immediately from the Lebanese
portion of the village.

Cluster Bombs: IDF Maps Are Inadequate
--------------------------------------

13. (SBU) After DPKO A/SYG Mulet's description of the new
Israeli information on cluster bombs as constituting "limited
value," Libya, France, Belgium, South Africa, Vietnam,
Indonesia, Costa Rica, and Panama expressed concern about the
lack of progress on this issue, and called on Israel to
satisfy the SYG's request for detailed strike data.

Soldiers: Calls for Hizballah Action
------------------------------------

14. (SBU) Most delegations criticized Hizballah's refusal to
even provide proof of life for the abducted Israeli soldiers
and called for their immediate release. Libya supported the
SYG's comments on the prisoner issue, referring to both the
Israeli soldiers and Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel.
The UK, Italy, and Croatia expressed regret about the lack of
progress on the prisoner issue and called on Hizballah to
take action. Vietnam, on the other hand, expressed concern
about the fate of Lebanese prisoners in Israel.

Sheba'a Farms: Muted Support for 7-Pt. Plan
-------------------------------------------

15. (SBU) The issue of the Sheba'a Farms did not receive as
much attention during the consultations as it has during past
discussions of UNSCR 1701. France reiterated its support for
the SYG's call to find a solution to the issue, and welcomed
Syrian willingness to begin delineating its northern border
with Lebanon. French PR Ripert also called on all parties to
work with the SYG on the basis of the GOL's seven-point plan.
Libya argued that delineation of borders can be accomplished
only by bilateral agreement between Syria and Lebanon after
an end to Israeli occupation. Belgium said the UNSC should
support the SYG in moving forward with the seven-point plan
while focusing on disarmament as well. South Africa repeated
its position that the Sheba'a Farms is occupied territory
from which Israel should withdraw immediately. In response
to a question from Panama on the status of the issue, DPA
U/SYG Pascoe said the UN is awaiting a formal response from
the GOL and the GOI on the UN's provisional geographic
definition.
KHALILZAD

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