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Cablegate: Middle East: Unsc Members Welcome Regional Peace

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DE RUCNDT #0478/01 1502342
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 292342Z MAY 08
FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4351
INFO RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 USUN NEW YORK 000478

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER KWBG KPAL SY LE IS PA
SUBJECT: MIDDLE EAST: UNSC MEMBERS WELCOME REGIONAL PEACE
INITIATIVES

1. (SBU) Summary. The UN Security Council held its monthly
Middle East meeting on May 28. UNSCO Robert Serry briefed in
a public session, and Council members subsequently discussed
the issue in closed consultations. Serry welcomed "fragile"
progress on the Israeli-Syrian, Lebanese, and
Israeli-Palestinian tracks, which he credited to the expanded
role of regional actors, but said these gains could be easily
reversed absent intensified efforts on the Annapolis track
and fruition of the Egyptian-led efforts on Gaza. As usual,
most delegations condemned rocket attacks from Gaza into
Israel and criticized "disproportionate" Israeli military
responses. Six delegations, including France, joined Serry
in calling Israel's closure of Gaza "collective punishment."
Several delegations also expressed concern that the Annapolis
process had not yet yielded positive results on the ground,
criticizing in particular continued Israeli settlement
activity and construction of the separation barrier, but Amb
Wolff cautioned them not to mistake the confidentiality of
talks for lack of progress. Costa Rica and Panama called
explicitly for international engagement with Hamas, while
France said it was "ready to support any efforts to
encourage" Hamas to accept the Quartet conditions. All
delegations welcomed the Doha Agreement signed by Lebanese
leaders as well as the election of Michel Suleiman as
President of Lebanon. Several delegations questioned the
utility of the monthly Middle East meetings if the UNSC
remains unable to agree on an outcome. End Summary.

Serry: Better Month than Usual
------------------------------

2. (SBU) UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace
Process (UNSCO) Robert Serry briefed the Council during a
public session on May 28. (Note: A transcript of his remarks
was e-mailed to IO/UNP and NEA/IPA. End Note.) Emphasizing
the new regional dynamic, Serry welcomed "fragile" progress
on three tracks -- Israeli-Syrian, Israeli-Palestinian, and
the Lebanese dialogue culminating in the Doha Agreement and
the election of Michel Suleiman as President. He made four
main observations: 1) Egyptian efforts to achieve calm in
Gaza are very important and deserve support, 2) progress must
be intensified on the Annapolis track, and the parties must
be pressed to intensify cooperation and meet Roadmap
commitments, 3) regional leadership on issues like
Israeli-Syrian peace and internal Lebanese politics should be
commended and supported, and 4) the SYG remains committed to
the full implementation of all relevant UNSCRs and to a just,
lasting, and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. During
the closed consultations, Serry described in detail the
impact of the lack of fuel and water in response to questions
about the humanitarian situation in Gaza. While noting the
counterproductive attacks on the crossings, he said resulting
Israeli measures "amounted to collective punishment." He
argued that restoration of calm in Gaza is a prerequisite for
restoring relations between Gaza and the West Bank and for
progress on the Israeli-Palestinian track.

Gaza: No to Rockets and Closure
-------------------------------

3. (SBU) Most delegations condemned both rocket fire from
Gaza into Israel as well as "disproportionate" Israeli
military responses. France, Russia, Libya, South Africa,
Indonesia, and Vietnam characterized Israel's closure of Gaza
as "collective punishment," and along with several other
delegations, called for an immediate re-opening of the Gaza
crossing points. Several European delegations also condemned
in particular recent Hamas attacks on the crossing points,
which they said only serve to hurt the Palestinian people.
South Africa expressed great concern about the humanitarian
situation in Gaza, in particular the shortage of water and
lack of sewage treatment, and asked UNSCO Serry to become
more involved in finding solutions to these problems. Most
delegations also expressed support for Egyptian efforts to
broker a cease-fire in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.

Whither Annapolis?
------------------

4. (SBU) Several delegations expressed concern that the
Annapolis process had not yet yielded positive results on the
ground, criticizing in particular continued Israeli
settlement activity and construction of the separation
barrier. China, South Africa, the UK, and Belgium called for
practical steps to demonstrate progress on the Annapolis
track. Libya was the most pessimistic, decrying a lack of
"any progress in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations" and
arguing that more donor meetings are insufficient to address
the situation in Gaza, which they called the "worst crime

USUN NEW Y 00000478 002 OF 002


against humanity in the world." South Africa, recalling the
hope that an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement would be
concluded by the end of 2008, concluded that the outlook now
appeared "bleak." Amb Wolff, noting the intensive U.S.
involvement in follow-up to Annapolis, told delegates that
these talks are the "most serious the parties have had,
touching on all of the core issues." He cautioned against
mistaking the confidentiality of the talks for lack of
progress.

Engaging Extremists and Radicals
--------------------------------

5. (SBU) Continuing a theme from past Middle East debates,
Costa Rica and Panama called explicitly for international
engagement with Hamas, while a few other delegations
addressed the issue in more nuanced terms. France, while
reiterating its call on Hamas to accept the Quartet
conditions, said it was "ready to support any efforts to
encourage an evolution (in Hamas's position) along these
lines." Russia did not advocate direct talks with Hamas, but
cautioned the international community against blocking
efforts towards Fatah-Hamas unity. Indonesia also
underscored the importance of intra-Palestinian
reconciliation and dialogue. Separately, most delegations
welcomed the announcement of Israeli-Syrian peace
negotiations brokered by Turkey. In this regard, Russia said
the Moscow conference could be a useful step forward, but
that agreement between the parties was still needed.

Lebanon: Support for Doha Agreement
-----------------------------------

6. (SBU) All delegations welcomed the Doha Agreement signed
by Lebanese leaders last week as well as the resulting
election of Michel Suleiman as President of Lebanon. Libya
said Doha proved that the Lebanese could resolve their own
differences if "left alone without foreign interference."
Several delegations also emphasized that Doha must be
implemented in full, drawing attention in particular to the
extension of GOL control over all its territory. Amb Wolff
expressed confidence that Suleiman would be committed to
upholding Lebanon's obligations under UNSCRs 1559, 1680,
1701, and 1757. Italy argued that Hizballah's use of force
should not translate into political gains beyond those
enshrined in the Doha Agreement, but cautioned that
international criticism of just one party in Lebanon --
Hizballah -- could undermine intra-Lebanese dialogue.
Although disarmament of militias is important, Italy observed
that it should be just one part of the overall Lebanese
political process. In this context, it is important to
"eliminate motivations behind Hizballah's resistance" by
placing the Sheba'a Farms under temporary UN trusteeship.

UNSC Irrelevant on the Mideast?
-------------------------------

7. (SBU) Costa Rica and Panama led several delegations,
including South Africa and Italy, in bemoaning the lack of
any Council reaction to the monthly Middle East briefings.
If the Council is just a discussion forum on the Middle East,
they said, what is the point of the monthly meetings? UK
PermRep Sawers, noting that Libya had blocked the past three
attempts at a Council product on the Middle East, agreed that
a monthly meeting without any outcome was unnecessary. He
suggested that the meetings be held every 3-4 months instead
and that the next SC President (U.S.) consider scrapping the
monthly meeting for June entirely. Before other members
could agree to Sawers's suggestion, however, Libya and South
Africa argued that the monthly meetings are useful if only to
"shed light" on the situation in the region, even if the
Council cannot bring itself to agree on a statement. In a
subsequent meeting of Security Council coordinators,
Indonesia expressed its strong preference for continued
monthly meetings on the Middle East.
Wolff

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